Well done to Mike Fitzpatrick for setting out the issues so clearly in yesterday’s Guardian. This paragraph in particular summed up the essence of the argument for me.
“Over the past decade popular discontents have raged around a range of political issues – fuel prices, student loans, blood sports and the invasion of Iraq. Yet MMR provided a focus for protest that was both intensely personal and political. It brought together issues of health and child welfare that were already central preoccupations of a highly individuated society. The controversy over immunisation allowed scope for individual initiative – at least in the form of a gesture of defiance – that was generally lacking in the public sphere. If you could do nothing about the demise of politics, the apparent decline in social cohesion and civility, and the threat of bioterrorism and war, at least you could take a stand on the issue of MMR.”
Now the anti vaccine impetus has moved away from MMR. It is focused on a form of mercury known as thimerosol in the USA or thiomersal to the rest of the world that is used as a preservative in some vaccines. This has given some campaigners a renewed opportunity to vilify George Bush and vaccines at the same time.
To adapt Mike Fitzpatrick,
“They also can do nothing about the demise of politics, the apparent decline in social cohesion and civility, and the threat of bioterrorism and war. But at least they can take a stand on the issue of Thiomersal. This poster is accompanied by two Bushisms
‘ Rarely is the question asked: “Is our children learning ?” ’
George W. Bush, January 11th, 2000
“They misunderestimated me.”
G.W.Bush, no date
They came at the start of a recent presentation by erstwhile MMR advocate Dr Ken Aitken. Our Ken used to back MMR as a cause of autism and is a recent convert to mercury. I will return to Dr Aitken in a later post. But this neatly illustrates the tactic of linking popular mistrust of politicians to the anti vaccine bandwagon. Has Leo Blair had his mercury shots?