View from the Hill
Immunize Me Or You”™ll Catch It, Too
By Catherine Durkin Robinson
May 8, 2011 - 5:29:37 PM

LOS ANGELES—Aren’t new parents funny? They finally get their beautiful and fresh-smelling bundle of joy, and they go online to brag about Apgar scores. New parents sometimes advocate some of the most bizarre and mind-baffling ideas since the womb song.

Believe me, I’m only a drunken evening and missed period away from being a new parent myself, so I understand the craziness. I’m not so far removed from the frightening first baby cry that I don’t remember some of my own bizarre ideas about how my boys would be raised. At one point, I declared my house Kosher and made Catholic relatives eat oyster stew out of paper bowls when they needed to borrow my house for a Christmas Eve meal. Not only did I embarrass myself, I got kicked out of three different wills.

But I never invaded my children’s personal space by blowing in their ears and trying to get them to urinate in a sink. I never thought it was appropriate to nurse my children once their teeth came in and they started quoting Shakespeare. I never chose cloth diapers, blamed absorption issues on faulty assembly and let my kids listen to The Wiggles.

Even I have some standards.

But such crazy ideas pale in comparison to the latest trend ”“ forgoing immunizations in favor of the “let’s see” approach to liver failure in the form of Hep B.

When I first heard this idea, I realized it wasn’t new. However, the movement against immunizations is gaining popularity and fewer kids are getting shots. I met one such family this weekend and used my investigative (read: Jewish) skills to get to the bottom of this trend.

I often leave the house without concealer, so really, who am I to judge? I took the tactful approach and hoped to understand.

“Have you been following Jenny McCarthy?” I asked.

“Not at all,” both the mom and dad assured me.

“Good,” I said. “If you want to know how to sculpt eyebrows, Jenny’s your girl. But don’t go to her for medical advice.”

“No,” the granola-eating mom said, “we get our information from the Internet.”

The same forum that gave us Matt Drudge and Justin Bieber. Fantastic.

“My wife and I are simply concerned,” the new father told me. “Didn’t you research this issue when your boys were babies?”

Me? When my boys were babies, I could barely keep my eyes open during daylight hours.

“I did do a ton of research,” I explained, “on doctors. Once I found the best pediatrician, I decided I should listen to her. Even if she did advise me to make my own organic baby food. She is the one with the degree after all.”

“Our baby isn't sexually active,” the mom said. “So we don’t have to worry about Hep B right now. Maybe when she’s in college.”

Blink. Blink. Blink.

“Look, I’m no scientist, but I think you’re mistaking Hep B with Hep C,” I said.

Bacteria in petri dishes. Photo by Jocelyn Holt
They both shrugged. As if we need further proof that when a Nine Inch Nails roadie breeds with a vegan from San Francisco, the world will never be the same again.

"Those who make vaccinations are often in it for the money," he said.

"I don't know," I replied, "if they were in it for the money, they'd be making pills for 70-year-old men who want to maintain six-hour erections. Who gets rich trying to improve public health?"

I could tell I was losing them.

“Instead of having one foot in each world,” I suggested, “why not just grab the guitar, hemp plants, and move right to a clothing-optional commune in Vermont? Quarantine yourselves and then get sick together.”

I couldn’t get them out of the house fast enough. What did they expect? I scour hotel rooms for bed bugs and keep a distance of at least five feet from anyone who coughs. Friends who have pets with scabies aren’t even allowed to pull into my driveway.

Call me an overreacting germaphobe with control issues (my mom does), but I am uncomfortable being around little petri dishes, no matter how cute they look in a pink onesie.

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