Sunday, May 25, 2014

Vaccination Refusals

Had an interesting day today.  We've had some  bad press recently since they discovered a possible polio case here.  Considering we report some hundred percent vaccination rates that really shouldn't be possible. Certainly not the first time paper didn't match reality.

I went with a friend of mine today and hunted down families refusing vaccinations.  Things are done differently here than America, obviously.  When they do the campaigns, they just walk door to door and give kids vaccines.  They don't have to ask parents or even check to see if they have been vaccinated before.  Since I've been in my village, we've probably done ten polio vaccine campaigns and there are certainly some kids who have been vaccinated ten times (three doses are plenty).  Hell, probably more if they have parents who actually bring them to get vaccinated.  If someone refuses to be vaccinated that just annoys the people doing the vaccines and they move on.  No one has ever bothered to explain WHY people should be vaccinated.  Adults usually ask to be vaccinated too so that it will "give them strength".

I actually asked why people didn't want to vaccinate.  The reasons were, well, reasonable.  Some said that they thought the vaccinations actually made their children sick.  A lot of vaccines have the side effect of causing a slight fever over the next couple days.  I didn't get down into the dirt as to why that is, because telling them that we were giving them a dead/crippled version of the illness seemed counterproductive.  I did tell them that this was a normal side effect and they shouldn't worry.  I also had to explain to them that just because the kid had a vaccination didn't mean they wouldn't get sick at all.  Explaining that their children could already be sick or get sick with something else unrelated to the vaccination often was enough.  Sometimes I'd explain that we knew it wasn't the vaccine that made the child sick simply because we gave it to tons of children and if it was the vaccine, then all the kids ought to be sick.  Usually this was enough to satisfy them.  Oh the best reasoning that we'd make them sick is that they'd then go to the clinic after and have to pay high bills.  Vaccinations as a money making scheme for the clinics.  Those bills in reality for other illnesses.

I'm not sure if these people will actually now get their kids vaccinated.  Every last one of them told me they would (or at least my translator said they did).  Could be they were just humoring the white man who rode in from lord knows where into their tiny little compounds out in the bush.  Course that might be reason enough for them to follow my advice.  But honestly, I think if anyone just bothered to sit down and explain to them why and how to be healthy, they would at least try.  And these are the people who are at least asking questions.  Would you blindly take medicine handed to you?


I really would like to see these strange interactions from their perspective .  It has got to be the weirdest thing in the world.