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

Softlysoftly Thu 25-Apr-13 18:39:11

Anyone apparently that was the nurses supervisor's response too.

Especially as the complainant was a pharmacist who said her opinion therefore trumped that of a mere nurse hmm

ApocalypseThen Thu 25-Apr-13 18:20:00

The problem is that being selfish and anti-social often goes with a massive sense of entitlement.

Personally, I think the panic getting of MMR among the refuses now that there's a crisis is hilarious. Or would be, if they hadn't caused such issues for others. Still, I guess it's never going to be their fault. I see its now doctors who didn't persuade them strongly enough that a make up risk was a stupid reason to deny their children astonishingly effective medicine at the time, or receptionists who must be rolling their eyes rather than coddling adults who took absurd risks with their children's health against all medical advice and now don't want to be judged.

Clowns.

AnyoneforTurps Thu 25-Apr-13 18:14:17

softly as an A&E doctor, I once had a complaint made against me by the mother of a completely unvaccinated child who came in with a large wound in his leg filled with dirt (nasty football injury). I didn't give her any high horse stuff about vaccines generally, just warned her that he was at risk of tetanus and that it is potentially fatal. Result = complaint for "frightening her". Luckily my consultant told her to foxtrot oscar grin.

The OP needs to understand that those of us who are pro-vaccine have been putting up with abuse from the extreme end of the anti-vaccine lobby for years. I am not for a moment suggesting this was the majority of the parents who did not vaccinate, but it was a very spiteful and vocal minority. So you'll have to forgive us if we're not distraught that you didn't get the red carpet treatment from a solitary receptionist once you finally realised we'd been right all along.

AnyoneforTurps Thu 25-Apr-13 18:07:15

I can't understand why you think the receptionist's response was judgemental. There are vaccines that work less effectively after a certain age (e.g. BCG) or which are not usually given after infancy (pertussis). She was probably caught on the hop and confused MMR with one of those. It sounds as if you are just projecting your own guilt about not vaccinating earlier onto the poor receptionist.

As for starting the catch-up campaigns earlier, what makes you think that parents who had previously refused to vaccinate would have done so in the autumn, prior to the measles outbreak? Sadly, it has taken the outbreak to prove to people that the measles risk is real.

georgedawes Thu 25-Apr-13 17:39:10

Thanks for answering my question.

When you initially turned the mmr down did you not really consider the possibility of them contracting measles? Was it more about the risk, as you saw it, of the vaccination?

Has anyone read the book, risk? Can't remember who wrote it but it's great and demonstrates why we're quite bad at evaluating risks, it definitely applies to vaccinations. Well worth a read, explains why I get scared of flying when it's much safer than driving a car!

Softlysoftly Thu 25-Apr-13 17:37:46

This thread has pissed me off. I am having to vaccinate my too young (11m) baby who is only a week out of paeds and being investigated for tb, that's a risk I'm having to take due to people not vaccinating their dcs at the appropriate time.

I'm in the outbreak area, there are signs EVERYWHERE they're are clinics EVERY WEEKEND gps are booked up with mmrs, they are doing as much as they can as fast as they can. They deserve your THANKS for being there when suddenly the reality of measels bursts your little protective bubble.

I saw a nurse in paeds who said she had been reported to a supervisor for daring to question a parent who had chosen not to vaccinate. I bet that's one of the parents queuing at a clinic now moaning about the qs and why "they" didn't stop it earlier.

TheBigJessie Thu 25-Apr-13 16:43:49

MiaowTheCat I entirely agree. If I had Whooping Cough, no-one realised! I didn't ever consider it as a possibility until I read the media coverage in recent years, and then my blood ran cold with recognition.

We've had Mumps, Measles and Whooping Cough outbreaks in the last ten years. Is it going to be diphtheria next? Such an elegant name for such a horrible disease, I always think.

I am a very grateful and thankful person ubik - so no problem with thanking those that do a good job, especially helping me to look after my DC's.

smile @ goblin - Yes, MN on open tab defs !

GoblinGranny Thu 25-Apr-13 16:30:03

'In fact it made me think maybe I could give it a go !'

Presumably you will have to have MN in an open tab on your computer, just to make sure that you give the correct medical information.

ubik Thu 25-Apr-13 16:25:02

Perhaps it would be cheeky to surmise that op is feeling defensive about not giving her children thr appropriate vaccinations and is transferring some of this emotion on to the GP receptionist - who did her job, got the nurse to phone.

When you go in, perhaps thank the receptionist fir doing this, thank the nurse for his/her care and advice and be bloody grateful you are not living in a country where there is no vaccination programme or you have to pay ££££.

Thanks pip - seems these issues are pretty much at the heart of being a good receptionist at a GP surgery. In fact it made me think maybe I could give it a go !

piprabbit Thu 25-Apr-13 16:14:14

Exactly, what if a patient phones to book a smear test and she says "Oh, I think you have to be over 30yo have one of those".
Or someone phones for a flu jab because they have an auto-immune disease and she says "I think they are only available to over 60s".
To which the patient might (like the OP) insist on speaking to someone else, but they equally might thank her for her help, apologise for bothering her and hang up.

MrsHoarder Thu 25-Apr-13 16:13:13

Not read full thread, but wanted to point out the news crews will look for the longest queue they can find. All the clinics with short queues seeing people as they turn up don't look interesting. Of course people see the news then decide not to go to their local clinic, which raises the question as to how ethical the media are...

Hmm, receptionist was still wrong though in saying "Oh, I think it's too late now" Still not good, whatever you think of my judgements over the years.

piprabbit Thu 25-Apr-13 16:07:45

The receptionist is an arse, I can't help but wonder what other jems of medical misinformation she is unloading on the patients.

She needs retraining, either to stick the practice line (i.e. if she has been specifically told by practice management not to allow teenagers to book MMRs) or not comment at all. Otherwise she risks causing problems for patients and the practice.

Oblomov Thu 25-Apr-13 16:05:45

The very fact that th OP made this mis-informed decision, years ago, NOT to vaccinate is the very reasoon that there is an outbreak in Wales.
And as others have said , she has had YEARS to sort this. She has known for YEARS, that her original deicsion was mis-informed.
But now she is all up in arms about the receptionist.
I can't believe Op's cheek. Absolutely astonishing.

MiaowTheCat Thu 25-Apr-13 16:02:26

Ignoring the for and against vac debate (because it will just go round in circles) one thing I think we do need is an awareness push on the symptoms (and real not fluffy or sanitised impact) of these resurging illnesses (including whooping cough here too).

If we are going to have to run round with the real die hard anti vac people relying on someone else to do the nasty stuff (no one enjoys taking kids for jabs) and these diseases are going to come back then at least people might recognise them faster and hopefully reduce the spread a bit. As it is I think lots of people don't know how measles, or whooping cough in little ones, actually appears and it's part of the problem.

Good they're on the case though Exit - as are you !

I mentioned at the start of this thread that I have booked my DD in for her MMR, and then this morning I received a letter from the surgery saying I should book her in for one. Ha, beat them to it.

Possibly I shouldn't have mentioned the receptionist so much at the beginning Janey but she was on my mind as I'd just phoned to make the appointment. And I thought her response was relevant as kind of showed not everyone is really on message to deliver an effective catch-up programme in light of recent measles outbreak.

I guess there's lots of different ways I could have gone about doing the thread, but I doubt it would have made that much difference to people's reactions overall.

Will do Jessie - when I made the appt the nurse asked if we could discuss other vax too.

TheBigJessie Thu 25-Apr-13 15:19:46

My lungs havenever been quite the same.

TheBigJessie Thu 25-Apr-13 15:10:57

In that case, please get them done for whooping cough.

If you, as a healthy adult, get it, you'll be miserable for three months. If you have asthma, your life will be absolutely shit for three months. If you give it to a baby too young to be fully immunised, they might die.

I have a sickening suspicion that I caught whooping cough when I was 16. At the time, I thought it was bronchitis. However, I do remember the noise I made as I coughed and breathed in... It was awful. It lasted from May until August. And my lungs have been quite the same.

And now I have to wonder whether I passed it on to anyone vulnerable. Fortunately for my conscience, I know it wasn't my fault I wasn't immunised, but I still feel awful. I tell myself I don't know it was whooping cough. I tell myself that there were no deaths from whooping cough in the local newspaper 11 years ago. Still preys on my mind, though.

If your child catches whooping cough, you won't be able to reassure yourself with the excuses I use for myself.

Lazyjaney Thu 25-Apr-13 15:05:47

TBH OP I think your initial stance of attacking the doctor's receptionist was not the best way to win friends. I do think however your long post upthread was extremely good and useful, and IMO should be taken on board by anyone planning any campaign as it explains very well how you came to change your mind, and what could be done to influence others.

I also agree with tiggy that the risks of these diseases if caught has been massively downplayed. It sees to have required measles to actually kill someone, to remind people tat it's a killer, which is why countries inoculate. I think we have had so many generations free of these things we forget why we have inoculations, sewerage, clean water etc in the first place.

Thanks for your sympathetic post too tiggy
I think that's a good idea about publicising more information about the illnesses and diseases tigs - to help parents have a more realistic view of the relative risks.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now