To think the response to the measles outbreak in Wales has been too slow ?

(108 Posts)

Like many other parents of children who are now teenagers (or thereabouts) we didn't have our DC's immunised with MMR as youngsters. With the current outbreak of measles in Wales, and also now they are older, we have reconsidered and decided to ask for the vax for them both. I phoned my GP surgery this morning to make an appt. for them. Receptionists initial response was ...
"Oh, I think it's too late now" shock - then after I said that I knew lots of teenagers were having the vax she said she'd get the nurse to phone me back. Lovely practice nurse did this shortly afterwards and I now have an appt. for them to have it in about a week's time.

Was a little shocked though by the receptionist's initial poorly informed and frankly somewhat judgemental response to my request.
This has also made me think of the pictures on the news of the long queues of parents and children in Wales now coming forward to have their vaccinations. The long queues make me wonder if the clinics couldn't perhaps be better resourced to cut down on these waiting times (which might put some people off coming forwards)?

If a catch-up programme had been initiated when outbreak began to develop in the autumn, and with perhaps more pro-active and better resourced programmes in clinics and even schools across the country would we have more chance of beating this outbreak before it spreads outside the Swansea and South Wales area ?

Is judgement of the decisions made by parents at the height of the MMR controversy holding practitioners and policy makers back from acting quickly and effectively in the best interests of children's health ?

I know that posting this in AIBU is a risky thing to do as some will surely say I am being unreasonable for not letting my DC's have the vax as young children, but I think the important thing is really looking at what we can all do now, especially to halt this recent measles outbreak.

All I will say in my OP in defence of my past actions is that I have only really understood about herd immunity and protecting the most vulnerable from reading threads on MN. And don't forget one of my recent actions - this morning - is to book them an appointment. smile

Callisto Wed 24-Apr-13 10:59:42

You reap what you sow OP. And no, I think that the official response has been reasonable. I'm not sure what you expect really.

GreenEggsAndNichts Wed 24-Apr-13 11:04:00

You're right. And staff at your GP seem misinformed, as even on the news here in the east midlands, we're being told clinics are being set up in Wales and calls for children your DC's ages are being put out to get their vax.

DottyboutDots Wed 24-Apr-13 11:04:13

Dear god. Were you really shocked that a receptionist wasn't up to speed on an issue that you weren't either. Do you get shocked and offended often? YABU.

TheBigJessie Wed 24-Apr-13 11:04:42

I'm not sure you can extrapolate from one receptionist.

For example, when I got my vaccines done a few years ago (adult child of anti-vaccine mother) the receptionist at my surgery was helpful, although she was a bit astounded by such a non-routine request.
Me: I want to an appointment with the doctor to discuss having my MMR vaccine and any others.
Receptionist: you want to be booked in for anti-malaria? Righty-oh!
Me: no, MMR and all other childhood vaccines.
Receptionist: What? Are you sure you haven't had them? Okay, I don't know whether we do that, but I'll book you a doctor's appointment.

Thanks for your reply Callisto

I expect to raise the profile of this important current issue and promote good decision making by all in tackling this recent measles outbreak.

Possibly encourage others to do as I have done this morning and make their DC's an appointment.

Hold practitioners and GP surgery receptionists accountable for their responses to parents enquiring about having the vax (for their DC's)

Hold policy makers accountable for the speed and efficacy of their response to the developing situation.

Different response at my GPs. Booked an appointment but not until mid May!

Well done Exit smile
Nice to know I'm not the only one !

TheBigJessie Wed 24-Apr-13 11:12:57

Well, to be fair, they did big public awareness campaigns to try and get teens vaccinated in 2005, due to Mumps outbreaks. (It was particularly a problem amongst the then university cohort, if you're wondering why you weren't aware of it.) Unfortunately, the left hand didn't know what the right hand was doing, and we then had a shortage of MMR vaccine. Obviously, when there's a shortage, routine immunisations for the thirteen-month-olds and three-year-olds have to be prioritised.

And yes was surprised more than shocked that receptionist not better informed about the whole situation and that she really thought and told me it might be "too late" - for teenagers to have an MMR ?
Surely it works just as well at any age ?

TheBigJessie Wed 24-Apr-13 11:13:58

Oh, a bit got left off my post.

So maybe they've decided not to run a huge campaign, until they've actually stocked up!

Actually I heard on news last night that a catch-up campaign will be launching tomorrow (so hopefully they have adequate amounts of vaccines available)

That does surprise me too when there are shortages of vaccines Jessie, though obviously people become much more concerned and demand rises quickly during an outbreak.

TheBigJessie Wed 24-Apr-13 11:21:16

Just to clarify- we don't have a shortage of vaccine now, as far as I am aware, in case any one lurking is worried.

I work in a primary school, we have 3 cases of Rubella. I've just been to book my dd for her second MMR early ( shes 3.3 so not too early) because I'm not risking carrying and passing on.

TheBigJessie Wed 24-Apr-13 11:25:12

Surely it works just as well at any age ?

More or less, although the MMR is less effective on children under 13 months, and is less likely to result in immunity then. But I wouldn't blame a receptionist for not knowing that. Not part of the job role!

You don't think it's part of her role to be aware that some children missed out on MMR jabs as youngsters due to controversy surrounding it and that it's possible for them to have it later Jessie ? Seems fairly uninformed to me, and if she didn't know she shouldn't have offered an opinion surely, she could just have said she'd go and ask about that ? I think she was in the wrong to use the phrase "too late" in her initial response to my query.
Even "I'll have to ask if that's possible" would have been better.

TheBigJessie Wed 24-Apr-13 11:39:01

I wouldn't expect a receptionist to necessarily know how vaccines work, no. They're not medically qualified, as MNers regularly complain!

"I'll have to ask if that's possible" would have been better, yes, but this one, individual, woman was obviously caught on the hop.

She obviously had her big judgey pants on this morning IMHO smile

GoblinGranny Wed 24-Apr-13 11:46:10

I think that the response has been pretty good considering all the arguments and publicity that have been ongoing since immunisation rates dropped.
They've got an enormous backlog to get through that is entirely not of their creation, and for the most part it is being done in a non-judgemental atmosphere.
As for the OP, you based your decision on scaremongering, and didn't research the possible consequences at the time? hmm

So much for "non-judgemental attitude" goblin hmm (raises mild eyebrow in goblin's direction)

The situation is what it is ( cf. "backlog which is entirely not of their creation")

The question for everyone, as always, should be the best way forward from here

GoblinGranny Wed 24-Apr-13 11:55:45

I wasn't talking about me, I was meaning the belated access to immunisation provided by healthcare professionals who spent months trying to persuade parents that Wakefield's studies were flawed.
Some people chose not to immunise because of strong family backgrounds of bad reactions and personal experience of children with compromised immune systems. Thousands more did so because of the equivalent of the DM scaremongering. You learned about herd immunity from MN?
I'm just pleased that the hordes are now trotting towards GPs and boosting herd immunity from a disease that killed and disabled many when I was a child.

Gruntfuttocks Wed 24-Apr-13 11:56:29

Sounds to me like the receptionist was mis-informed rather than judgemental, and she did what you wanted in the end and helped you organise an appointment. Doctors' receptionists get bombarded with all sorts of requests all day long, and can't be expected to 'know it all' - they are only human.
Huffing and puffing about health services not getting their act together quickly enough for your liking is pretty unreasonable, when you are in one of the group that created this situation by not vaccinating your kids in the first place. I think you need to get over yourself, dear.
Hoists judgey pants smartly...

Pigsmummy Wed 24-Apr-13 11:59:42

I have a baby who having just turned six months is likely running low on maternal protection and not due to have the MMR vaccine until 11 months, I contacted the surgery to ask for guidance, they said that unless we are travelling to Swansea for an overnight visit they won't provide the available measles vaccine, do the NHS believe that people don't travel?

I was asking for the advice ahead of a visit to family, they live in Cardiff (very close to Swansea) and we were going to Shropshire (where the headline on the local newspaper is "Measles outbreak confirmed in several schools across county"). Surely the NHS could offer the vaccine to us and anyone else who wants it? The cost per measles vaccine is tiny versus the cost of managing an outbreak/epidemic.

I have now booked a private vaccination for my baby that I will struggle to afford.

GoblinGranny Wed 24-Apr-13 12:02:23

This is from the UNICEF website:
'Measles is a viral respiratory infection that attacks the immune system, making children vulnerable for deadly infections. Exceptionally contagious, children who are not immunized will suffer from the disease when exposed. Most people see measles as a disease that causes temporary illness, requiring time off from school or work. But it is deadly: as many as five out of every hundred measles cases among children can cause death.
Survivors of measles are often left with life-long disabilities, such as blindness, deafness or brain damage. Prior to the availability of measles vaccine, measles infected over 90% of children before they reached 15 years of age. These infections were estimated to cause more than two million deaths and between 15,000 and 60,000 cases of blindness annually worldwide.
Unvaccinated children under the age of five are most at risk of death. Older susceptible children may sustain transmission and put the youngsters at risk for measles.

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