The UK’s philosophy on vaccinations is, to me, strange. For example, flu shots are only covered for the elderly, the pregnant, and the sick. As opposed to the US, where they try to get everyone. I saw some flyer explaining why, and it basically said the flu sucks, but after you have it, you get immunity so it’s good, so they reserve it for cases where the sickness itself can cause the most harm. Except uh, immunity is exactly what the vaccination does, so I don’t get it. What’s the downside of the vaccination?

Furthermore, if you’re not going to vaccinate everyone, the subgroups they choose to vaccinate aren’t optimal. If you haven’t heard, vaccinations aren’t perfect – depending on the kind, they only produce immunity in something like 80% of the people who receive them, but they’re far more effective on the young than the old. The young are also the group that spreads the flu most widely. Thus, the optimal strategy is to vaccinate all children, who are most likely to both spread the disease otherwise and build immunity if vaccinated. Vaccinating only the old won’t stop the group that spreads it most and will only help maybe 50% of the people who actually get it. To me, makes no sense.

But I think the mentality is that it’s not *that* bad to get the flu. It sucks, but builds character, or something. I’m basing this on the fact that UK children typically don’t get vaccinations for chicken pox either. Joshua got invited to this joint birthday party for 2 of his classmates, but one of the hosts had to pull out because she got chicken pox. They still have chicken pox parties here, where they deliberately try to get the children to give it to each other.

On the flip side, a surprising number of kids here get the TB vaccine, which is virtually never given in the US. It’s actually a hassle if you do get it. Everywhere in the US, if you work around kids or do all sorts of stuff, you have to take a TB skin test to confirm that you don’t have the disease. The problem with the vaccine is that it makes you test positive for that test. So forevermore, you have to explain to any organization that works with kids why you have a positive TB skin test result. Hassle. I’m hoping to avoid that here, but not sure how the rules work.

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