Did you miss me?

It would be a world-class understatement to tell you that I’ve been busy lately. I’ve traveled from one side of the planet to the other and back. I’ve been chasing viruses and bacteria wherever that three-lettered health organization has needed me, and I’m exhausted. So I’m back home to recoup before heading out into the cruel, cruel world again as the freelance epidemiologist I’ve become.

Before I go sip on some tea and watch a movie or two on HBO, I wanted to tell you that the Zika outbreak in the Caribbean seems to be waning. Don’t be fooled, however. The mosquitoes are there, and so are the people. Sexual transmission is likely ongoing, so this lull in activity is only temporary. Zika will come back soon enough, and it’s going to make a mess of things. Just wait until it gets hot in the South.

When that happens, we’re going to have ourselves a good, old-fashioned, all-American outbreak. You know the type? Where politicians don’t know what to do and only do the wrong thing? Especially with Trump in the White House. I’m getting the popcorn ready.

Next time, I’ll tell you all about how the new territorial epidemiologist of a US Territory doesn’t believe Zika is a thing. (I wish I was joking.)

Laugh it up, jerks. Laugh it up.

I used to have a boss who was well into his 70s when he decided to retire. He had worked at the health department where I was just a young number-cruncher longer than I had been alive. He joked about starting to work as a public health inspector in the Johnson Administration. Slowly and steadily, he moved up the ranks to becoming the director of a very busy infectious diseases unit at a very busy health department.

He was there in 1976 when Legionnaires’ Disease appeared. He told me about being on a call with people in the White House and how they wanted something, anything done, and done immediately. That same year, the swine flu fiasco happened, throwing the flu vaccine program into disarray. And he was at his highest position when all the crazy was unleashed over “Vaccine Roulette” and the resulting anti-vaccine nonsense.

He survived all that, and more. From one administration at the federal and state levels to another. His bosses came and went. The things they stood for changed and changed, and tragedies happened. And he was still there in his old age, fighting the good fight.

As you might have guessed, anti-vaccine zealots from The Kid to the anti-Semitic jerks at Age of Autism are celebrating the Trump victory since Trump has questioned vaccines and has embraced certain anti-science people. Apparently, Andrew Jeremy Wakefield once posed for a picture a few feet away from Trump, so Trump is now likely to ban all vaccines everywhere for all time. Makes sense, right?

Much like their knowledge of vaccines, anti-vaccine activists show an ignorance of how public health works in America. The vaccine advisory committee is not made up of political appointees or partisans. It’s made up of experts on the subject matter. They recommend what vaccines to give to what age groups, and the recommendations are followed (or not) at the state and local level. In order to shut down all vaccines everywhere forever, anti-vaccine-obsessed people would need to convince all states and territories that the Earth is flat, or something just as ludicrous.

Could a Trump Administration pull the plug on funding? Yeah, maybe, but we’ve done a lot more with a lot less. (That’s what my old boss used to tell us stories about. One year, they had their budget cut by 70%, and they still managed to expand their services year after year, even if just a little bit.) See, unlike anti-vaccine activists, we in public health are not in it for the money. We don’t travel to far-away and very dangerous places for money. We are okay with being held at gunpoint when something gets lost in translation at a checkpoint in a banana republic because we know we’re there to serve, and, frankly, dying for what we do is a badge of honor. We’d become immortal if we ever die in the service of public health.

So, yeah, laugh it up, jerks. Write all your little blog posts about how beautiful it will be to live in a Trump-led world. (Spoiler Alert: He’s not leading anyone. He’s not a leader. It’s not some title you are given.) We will continue to vaccinate tomorrow, next year, and next century. We might stumble and fall here and there, yes. But, just when you celebrate at the thought of burying us, you will weep when you realize we’re seeds… When you realize what we’ve survived and, thus, what has made us stronger.

You don’t want no change

In my line of work, you have to be able to survive different levels and incarnations of bureaucracies. People at the top will come and go at the whim of the electorate, or the whims of those who fund elections. But people like us, people at the bottom, will always be around. We will always be the ones to clean up the messes of the people at the top.

Take for example Zika in Puerto Rico. We saw that coming since it showed up in Brazil last year. When a friend of mine went to Colombia, I told him to watch for it. Reports were coming in that Zika had arrived in Brazil, but no one was listening. (No one at the top, that is.) While my friend was chasing Chikungunya, I was getting ready to be deployed to Brazil. However, at the last minute, because the people upstairs are that way, I ended up helping with MERS in Seoul instead.

So I guess I am in fact susceptible to some of the whims of some of the people upstairs. Funny that. Anyway, we saw Zika coming and no one did much of anything. Some of us begged and pleaded to be sent to the island to help them prepare. Their health department was in shambles, and we knew it. We desperately kept asking for a deployment. We were even willing to stay with host families to cut down on the cost. But, because Zika funding was a political hot potato, no one did anything.

And here we are. The first case of microcephaly in a child has been reported in Puerto Rico, and it is probably not going to be the only one. The eggheads in mathematical modeling tell us that thousands of women will be infected. The epidemiologists on the ground are seeing it. And those of us who have dealt with infectious disease outbreaks before know that it’s going to get much worse before it gets better, especially since we couldn’t do anything early to at least ameliorate the outcomes.

Thing is, this is the way things have always been. Politicians have always played politics with other peoples’ lives. They are willing to tolerate the deaths (or lifetime of disability) of people so long as they keep their power and keep pushing for the weird ideal in their head. (Their version of freedom, their version of justice, and their version of the American Way.) And we, the people, we are sort of okay with that because we’re creatures of comfort.

If I told you that you had to go grab a gun and head out to fight an invading army, you (especially you Americans) would probably freak out. Who would take care of your house while you were gone? Who’d feed your pets? What about your kids? Your lawn? Very few of you would be willing to let it all go to go fight, or to go do what needs to be done to make things better.

That’s why I could care less if Clinton or Trump win. (Sure, Trump will probably take us into a nuclear holocaust-type situation, but we’ll deal with that when we get to it.) They’re not going to change things because we won’t let them. We’ll complain if gasoline prices get high, and they’ll do what they need to to do bring those prices down lest we don’t vote for them in the next election. The same if enough of us don’t have a job, or if our homes are not worth as much as we want them to be worth.

All of this assumes that the next POTUS doesn’t become a despotic ruler. Even then, they have to keep someone happy or risk losing control:

So I don’t believe you when you say that you want change. If you think about it, Obama didn’t change things much compared to Bush Jr. Things didn’t change that much from Clinton to Bush Jr. And it wasn’t a quantum leap from Reagan to Bush Sr. to Clinton. All change has been gradual, slow, and done in such a way as to keep you comfortable and keep you productive enough for that tax money to flow.

You don’t want no change. You want everything to be status quo for as long as possible, and that’s why we have these public health “emergencies” instead of public health “problems.” We saw Zika coming from miles away, but it was uncomfortable to tell people not to travel to those nice, warm places to have some fun. It was uncomfortable to tell people there not to have sex. (The horror!) And here we are.

Whoever you vote for on November 8 (or 28th), know that you are not voting for change. You’re voting to keep the status quo as you see it. Democrats will vote for Democrats. Republicans will vote for Republicans. Tea Partiers will vote for psychopaths. And undecideds will vote for whomever seems to be the closest to keeping things the way they are, or the way they used to be when things were best.

When your math doesn’t make sense

I’m just going to leave this here. It’s a comment published on The Kid’s blog. One of his friends posts a link to another anti-vaccine website and perpetuates a lie. Then he realizes that the math doesn’t work out. So then he pleads that his comment not be published. The Kid publishes it anyway.

“But, what happened in Kenya, uncovered by 27 Bishops of the Roman Catholic Church, is, to me, the signpost for “The Plan.” There, in Kenya, just three months ago, vaccines were used to permanently, and without their knowledge or permission, sterilize forty-two million (42 million) young Kenyan women. The World Health Organization (WHO), and UNICEF, were caught, by the Catholic Church leadership, lacing what they described as “Tetanus Vaccine” with Beta-HCG, a hormone that, when combined with the ingredients in the Tetanus vaccine, leads to sterility.”

Then this (with my link to show you who Tim Bolen is):

Tim Bolens story of 42M Kenyans doesn’t make sense given the total Kenyan pop is 45M – so please don’t publish that comment .”

Comedy gold. Here’s a tip, weirdos: FACT. CHECK.

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The mental contortions of The Kid

Last time, I told you all about how The Kid wrote that Hillary Clinton’s pneumonia was the result of a failure of the pneumococcal vaccine. He wrote:

“Despite her proclaiming that “#vaccineswork”, the pneumonia vaccine obviously did not work for her in that instance assuming she even followed the CDC’s advice as she wanted everybody else to do.”

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From his blog post.

Then, on Twitter, he doubles down on his conspiracy theory:

“The fact that you have an infectious disease but came into contact with children.”

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Does The Kid Have Inside Knowledge of Hillary Clinton’s Pneumonia?

Of course he doesn’t. He just seems to think that he does.

In yet another rambling post by The Kid, he seems to think that he knows what kind of pneumonia Hillary Clinton has:

“The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends all adults over 65 receive a pneumococcal vaccine to prevent pneumonia. Yet shortly after collapsing during an early exit from a 9/11 memorial gathering over what her campaign blamed on the illness, 68-year old Crooked Hillary Clinton was photographed hugging a young girl. Despite her proclaiming that “#vaccineswork”, the pneumonia vaccine obviously did not work for her in that instance assuming she even followed the CDC’s advice as she wanted everybody else to do.”

So she has pneumococcal pneumonia, Jake? I mean, how else to interpret that statement. If she took the pnumococcal vaccine, and “the pneumonia vaccine obviously did not work for her,” then she must have pneumoccocal pneumonia. Clinton’s campaign has not revealed what type of pneumonia she has been diagnosed with, but facts have never really gotten in the way of a good rant by The Kid.

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Dr. Bob Sears, our Douchebag Emerit-ass, is in hot water

News came late to me that Dr. Bob Sears, 2014’s Douchebag of The Year, is now in hot water with the California Medical Board for what the legal filing states that he “was grossly negligent and departed from the standard of care in that he did not obtain the basic information necessary for decision making prior to determining to exclude the possibility of future vaccines, leaving both patient J.G, the patient’s mother, and his future contacts at risk for preventable and communicable diseases”

Orac does a great job of covering all this, so I won’t bore you with the details. You can go read his blog and enjoy some much deserved insolence against “Dr. Bob.”

It goes without saying that this should perk the ears of other anti-vaccine so-called physicians (or physicians in title only, as no physician worth their salt would ever be anti-vaccine). They should be very, very careful about how they carry on their business of promoting anti-vaccine science.