Sunday, August 31, 2008

Vaccinated Shmaccinated

We are a household vaccinated to the hilt. In addition to the usual childhood regime of MMR, Hib, Polio, DTap, Varicella, and PCV, we have also been vaccinated against Flu (annually), Yellow Fever, Typhoid, Hepatitis A and B, Rabies and should the situation call for it we can quickly get our hands on Malaria pills. I am not a fan of shots and certainly my boys don't like them either, but our lifestyle is such that exposure to things like Typhoid and Rabies is not that farfetched and so the pain must be endured. I have always taken comfort in the fact that these many, many, many shots are, in the long run, good for us. And, I have always taken it on faith that the clear liquids in the myriad vials injected into our arms, thighs and other places are exactly what the label says they are; that they have not been tainted or administered improperly; that they have been stored at the appropriate temperature; and, that the dosages are accurate and the potency sound. I realize this is a lot of faith to have in one's government, but generally speaking my government has proven worthy of my faith. We recently learned that the same cannot be said for all peoples of the world.

During our first week in Caracas, an employee at the US Embassy was diagnosed with the Mumps. When Kenny told me about it, we sort of laughed it off, feeling sorry for the employee and counting our blessings that we had 4 yellow shot records indicating our immunity (at least sort of anyway) against such a crazy disease. The next day we discovered that it wasn't just this employee that had Mumps. In fact, for the last few months there have been over 10,000 new cases of Mumps reported each month in Venezuela. In America, we would call this an epidemic. The Venezuelan government however, says, 'um no, this is not an epidemic and that those who suggest otherwise are being alarmist. As if that alone weren't enough, even more injurious is the fact that some speculate the culprit for this non-eidemic is the government themselves, suggesting that they knowingly distributed thousands of MMR vaccines that were in fact just MR - what a difference an "M" makes. Of course the government denies all culpability for cause or consequence. I'm sure the tens of thousands now suffering through swollen glands and facing the threat of infertility at the hands of this virus are comforted by their government officials' repeated denials and baffled looks. Maybe it isn't their fault after all, maybe it really was just a bad batch of vaccines? Either way, our next round of shots in on the horizon and I think we're going to have to dig a little deeper than usual to muster the necessary faith.


Hollyween said...

Did you know there were a few cases of The Mumps here? Even for people who were already vaccinated against them? They thought Levi had it. Turned out it was cervical adenitis which is sometimes mistaken for the mumps if misdiagnosed.

I don't blame you for your need to dig a little deeper and muster up more faith.

I'm sure you'll be FINE though.
But it wouldn't hurt to be ultra paranoid and make sure. REALLY sure.

teresa and the boys said...

Yikes. I'd be a wreck -- positive that me and my kids would end up all mumpy.

But I'm sure you're handling it better, and that you'll all be fine!

Glad you made it to Caracas, and hope it keeps you entertained and happy!

Jenibelle said...

I thought mumps were almost wiped out ! Wow, learned something new today.
I've been to Caracas once, it is HUGE!!!

Ilene said...

That is plain scary. Love the government's response. It's one of the reasons that socialized medicince scares the beejeebers out of me.

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