Italy and Romania are both seeing a spread of measles. Measles is contagious before there are noticeable symptoms and it is very very contagious. Only vaccination prevents its spread. It is possible to die of measles; it can also cause blindness.
The signifier of “punk” is broad and, in many cases, polysemic. It’s connected to an ethos of rebellion against the stultifying status-quo, but the form that rebellion takes has always varied depending on circumstances.
Dirty disheveled clothes and scream-fuelled music is rebellious in the context of pristine socially-conservative households (crustpunk), going back to handcrafts and Victorian clothing is rebellious in the context of digital technology and sterile iPod-style aesthetics (steampunk), while a lush green utopia built on liberatory values is rebellious in a world on the brink of ecological catastrophe and political authoritarianism (solarpunk).
But one thing punk always must rebel against, no matter the context, is fascism. The knuckle-scraping scumbags attracted to fascism have always tried to co-opt the semiotics of the left, of anarchists, and of underground subcultures to make their pseudo-rebellion against “white genocide” seem anti-authoritarian, when it’s really just another form of totalitarian reaction.
And after having just been spooked by a fascistic “anarchist” page using solarpunk-style imagery in one of its memes, it’s only appropriate to emphasise the ever-present need for antifascism in every form of punk; to immunise against the virus.
Drabble Challenge - Prompt 2 - “Hey, hey, calm down. They can’t hurt you anymore.” Filled for anon.
Thank you for the prompt, I tried to give you a little bit of hurt/comfort. I hope you like it and thank you for your kind words. x :)
“Hey, hey, calm down. They can’t hurt you anymore,” He remembers his mother whispering to him the first time it happened.
He was only three and needed to be immunised. As soon as he saw the needle he became hysterical, the doctor had had to chase him around his office and trap him against the wall to administer the inoculation. He had cried all the way home.
When he’d done his shoulder in college and needed to have it operated on, he’d breathed into a paper bag as the nurse put in the IV drip and even then he had very nearly blacked out from the panic.
Harvey had always hated needles. He knew it probably seemed silly to most people, but seeing someone with a sharp pointy object that was going to inflict pain on him, move toward him sent a reaction of fear and panic that overrode his usually cool and composed demeanour. And nobody except Lily knew.
After last year’s flu season had taken out half of Pearson Hardman, Jessica had basically laid down the law. You had a flu shot, or you faced her wrath.
He was staring ashen-faced at the e-mail revealing his appointment time when Mike bounced into his office.
“Hey boss, got your flu shot appointment? I got 5 pm, lucky hey? I usually get a dead arm from those things!” Mike babbled, dropping a file in front of him.
“Hmmm.“ Was his tight-lipped response.
“I’m finished with the Cortland file, found something interesting actually,” Mike explained, gesturing that he pick up the file.
When he replied with another hum and didn’t even look at the folder, Mike pressed harder.
“Harvey,” Mike insisted, “What’s going on?”
He looked up at Mike then, realising that he had missed an integral part of this conversation. He grabbed the file and buried his face in it, reading it over quickly.
“Sorry, this is good work, Mike,” He said, attempting to distract Mike with compliments but instead found that Mike had managed to slip around his desk and was now reading over his shoulder. Damn kid and his disregard for personal space.
“Hey, you got the 5.05pm appointment, I’ll come grab you, and we can go together,” Mike confirmed, and exited the office before he could refuse the offer.
True to his word, Mike escorted him down to the 40th floor where the flu clinic had been set up. They were sitting outside, and he was watching a steady stream of people enter, and exit like this was just your ordinary occurrence, and not the end of the world.
“Mike Ross.” The nurse announced.
Mike stood and turned to him.
“Want to distract me while she stabs me in the arm?”
He blanched but managed a nod. Maybe seeing Mike have his needle would help?
It didn’t, and it was his turn sooner than he expected. The collar of his shirt was drenched in sweat, and his hands had started to tremble.
“You’re up,” Mike called out, turning to find him pale and shaking, and plastered against the wall. “Harvey!” Mike said, arriving by his side in the blink of an eye.
He swallowed nervously. “I can’t,” he muttered, closing his eyes and willing the dizzy feeling away.
“It’s okay,” Mike soothed. Mike loosened his tie and undid the top button of his shirt, then took his hand and gave it a squeeze.
“Why didn’t you tell me? I feel like an asshole for dragging you down here.”
He attempted to laugh, but it came out as a choked cough. “I thought I could,” he replied, cheeks flushing slightly.
Mike started to unbutton his shirt sleeves. “You’re sweating, just take it off, and we’ll relax in here for a bit okay? I’ll just let the nurse know, stay put,” Mike directed, leaving him to fumble with the buttons and work his shirt off.
He felt better with his shirt off, maybe a little foolish but at least Mike wasn’t laughing at him. In fact, he enjoyed the way Mike seemed to take control of the situation, and know just what he needed.
He watched as the nurse nodded at Mike as though she understood, then smile over at him.
Mike turned back to him, and for a second he forgot to breathe because for some reason, Mike was walking toward him like he wanted to take him apart and devour every inch of him. He managed to huff out a “Wha-” before Mike grabbed his face and placed a hard and unrelenting kiss against his lips. Without any further thought except maybe ‘fuck yeah’, he kissed him back, Mike’s tongue demanding and receiving entry to his mouth as they lost themselves in a moment that both had wanted for over a year now.
He didn’t even feel the nurse administer the shot.
Authors note: Thanks for reading. There are 7 more drabbles to come, I’ll probably post one every few days. I feel like I could have edited more, but then these would never get posted. Now posted over on AO3
my parents have always been super antivax but ive also heard that vaccines are necessary, can you tell me how vaccines work because I have nobody to ask and you're essentially a Big Brother - if not that's OK thank you anyway
Ah! I can give a quick crash course - basically, vaccines essentially give you a tiny, tiny amount of the disease they’re vaccinating you against. And I admit, that sounds BAD, but what actually happens is your body, being incredibly smart and complex, takes that and builds an immunity to it - thus making you immune to any bigger, more deadly strains of the disease. And voila, no polio!
Even if people think ‘well, *I* don’t want to have the vaccine because I’m strong and healthy!’ it has terrible effects on those around - there’s a concept called ‘herd immunisation’, where basically if everyone is vaccinated in a community, then people who cannot have the vaccination (for medical reasons, or babies that are too young the be vaccinated) are also protected from the disease because everyone around them is, and so there is a significantly smaller risk of an outbreak.
So even if someone big and strong thinks ‘I don’t need this measles vaccine! I’m too healthy!’, they should get it. If not, they could get measles and though THEY would be able to fight it off, the baby in the doctor’s office can’t, or the man with cancer they ran into in the store can’t, and so vulnerable people suffer.
Before entering university, you had thought that people were exaggerating about how hard uni was. But, after a semester spent in university, you had truly understood their perspective. University had definitely turned you bat-shit crazy. Your grades were never a problem, it was almost always smooth sailing, but one of the biggest change that you have noticed was that you have started to develop feelings towards a boy. But, he wasn’t a normal boy, he was Park Jimin.
Park Jimin and his friends were the bad boys of the campus and basically ruled the entire place. They were very controversial, many rumours flew around about them, like smoking weeds, dealing drugs to being members of the underground gangs. But, they didn’t care about a single thing said about them. They never did and it looks like they never will. Despite the warnings given by professors about them needing to stop flicking girls’ skirts, they still kept on doing that. Despite the campus rule of no tattoos should be able to be seen, they still had them on their arms and legs, especially Jimin.
Jimin’s body was beautifully decorated with tattoos, which made him look 15234x more badass. On his right arm, a phoenix was drawn with the black ink. The tattoo stretched from his shoulder to his wrist. On his opposite arm, there was a star constellation and a few random ones. The biggest tattoo that he had was probably the one on his neck that seemed to spread all the way to his back. The picture seemed to be a tree with flowers, but you didn’t know what tree it was. And he still had a million more on other parts of his body. The reason behind this was because Jimin owned a tattoo parlour and it was one of the biggest in the city.
You have had your heart broken by a guy, which was why your friends weren’t ecstatic when you told them you had started liking him. But, you were sure that this time, it wasn’t just a simple crush or like. You knew that your like would soon develop into love, and, you were right. After six months, your simple crush had grown into something else, something stronger.
Every time when you felt stressed out because of your studies, a quick glance at him would refresh your thoughts, your sight would be cleared and everything around you felt like blooming. When you see him laughing along with his friends, your stomach would burst with butterflies. And every day the main thing that kept you going to your classes was because of him, you were always eager to go to university because you were eager to see him. You were 100% sure that you love him and you were going to chase for it. He was going to be a tough one since both of you literally belonged to opposite sides of the campus, you being the model student and him the rebel, but you didn’t care. But your friends did.
“WHAT? Are you crazy, (Y/N)?Jimin? Park Jimin out of every single boy in this campus?” asked Minhee, your friend.
“Yeah, you could’ve gone to Cha Eunwoo, he’s a total looker,” said Sera with hearts in her eyes.
“Dude, Cha Eunwoo is a flower boy, you guys know how I don’t like flower boys. Besides, I don’t think Jimin is that bad,” you said.
“Did you not hear the rumours about him beating up guys in the clubs yesterday ?” Mine asked again, her face showing full disagreement.
“Exactly, that is all we know, we only know him from the rumours, but rumours aren’t always true. He might be a softie under all of those tattoos and piercings,” you said.
“Minhee, she knows what she’s doing and we’re all adults. I think it’ll be best if we let her do what she wants this time,” said Sera.
“Thank you. Minhee, don’t worry, I know my consequences and I promise you that I won’t do stupid things. If I sense that this is not going to the right direction, then I’ll stop.”
You took Minhee’s hand and squeezed it. These girls had been with you since the first day of high school and you were grateful that they were actually concerned about you. But, Sera was right. All of you were now adults, it’s time to make big decisions and as an adult, you were aware of the dangers that can happen if you try to match his pace of life. So, you made a promise to yourself that if in the process of fighting for Park Jimin’s love, you started heading towards the bad side of life, you’ll stop.
Minhee sighed and you knew that she gave up. “Fine, but be careful, I don’t want you knocking on my door at freaking 3 am saying that the cops are after you.”
“But, how would you do it though? I mean like, both of you are very different, he’s like covered with tattoos and you’re scared of immunisation jabs, he doesn’t touch books and you’re surrounded by books. How are you going to get him notice you?” she asked.
“Well, I was thinking that I should sort of match his way of living, like get a few tattoos and pierce my ears. And maybe dye my hair,” you shrugged.
“Woah, all of these coming out from our Saint Mary’s mouth? Jeez, you’re so head over heels,” Sera scrunched her nose. You just simply shrugged and grinned at your friends.
Today was the day. You were going to get a tattoo at Jimin’s tattoo parlour. It was very nerve-wracking, your hands were sweating and your heart was beating very fast. You stood outside the shop, took a very deep breath and pushed the door open. The bell above the door ringed, indicating a customer.
“Welcome!” Hoseok bursted out of the curtains behind the till desk with a bright smile.
“O-oh, Hi” You nervously asked.
“Come, come, you want to get a tattoo, right?” He asked.
“Okay! Cool! Do you have a picture of what you want or do you want a surprise one?”
“Well, I sort of came here unprepared, so… I think a surprise one will be good,” you gave him a smile.
“Ooh, what a brave lady! Come on in, have a seat and we’ll get started soon,” he waved you to take a seat on one of the seats.
“Uh- actually, umm… I was wondering if I can get my tattoo from the best one here. I mean, no offence but-“
“Oh! No problem, we get that a lot, hold on, darl, let me get him,” He sent you a wink and told you to sit down.
You rigidly sat down on the smooth leather chair. You were alone and the place was empty and dead quiet. The interior design of the place was quite nice though, it wasn’t like those dark, shady tattoo places, it was more classy. The main colours were black, gold and a hint of wood. The chairs were black, the walls were also painted black but had gold linings and the till table and door frames were made out of wood.
“Your order for the best tattoo artist is here!” Hoseok popped up from the back again and returned with the one and only, Park Jimin. Your cheeks started burning up when you met eyes with him. You had managed to say a choked ‘hello’, which he replied with a charming smirk.
“Hey, beautiful,” He said.
“U-uh… h-hey…” you said, your face burning red.
“So, you wanted a surprise, huh? You must have a lot of faith in me.”
“Um… yeah, I wanted to change how I look a bit and decided to leave it to the hands of the expert,” you smiled.
“Oh, wow, I’m touched.”
He gave you another smile which made your heart beat faster, before leaving you to take the equipment. What caught you off guard, though, was how Jimin acted very differently in the campus grounds and here. You definitely liked his attitude better when he’s here.
“Okay, let’s get started,” he returned with a trolley of equipment.
You looked at him putting on black gloves and mask. Then, he grabbed the needle (idk what they call them), that’s when your fear started creeping in. The machine started, the sound was very loud it startled you. Jimin inched the needle closer to your forearm. Your eyes widened and by reflex, you stopped his hands.
“W-wait… uh, shit, sorry-“ You stuttered.
“It’s your first time right?” His eyes met yours but they were no longer full of cheekiness, it was like he was genuinely worried.
“Uh, yeah…” You dipped your head in embarrassment.
“Hey, it’s fine,” He placed his finger bellow your chin and pushed up so that he could make eye contact with you, “You’ll be fine, here hold on to my hand,” Jimin moved your hand that was gripping on the leather chair tightly to his arms.
Your cheeks burned deep crimson at the sudden contact. But, you held onto it nevertheless.
“Okay, are you ready?” He asked. After taking a few breaths to calm yourself, you nodded indicating him to go on with the process.
“Here we go.”
The needle finally touched your skin. You winced in pain and held on Jimin’s arm tighter. Tattoos weren’t an easy thing, you definitely realised that, but you remembered that you were doing this to match the person in front of you, the person you loved, Park Jimin. You couldn’t see what he was drawing since his hands sort of covered the image, so you moved your attention to his face in hopes to distract you from the pain. And, thank Lord, it did. When you looked at his concentrated face, the pain subsided and replaced with bubbles in your stomach.
“So, do you go to any universities?” he asked.
“I mean, are studying or working?”
“Oh-ouch-um, I’m currently studying…” you said.
“Oh, same, mind if I ask where?”
“Um, we actually go to the same university…” After you said that, he stopped for a fraction, but continued again.
“Oh, you do? Then, were you surprised that I was here?”
“No? So you purposefully came here, to get a tattoo from me? The campus’ s delinquent?”
“Yeah… You can put it that way.”
“That’s brave of you. You’re not scared of the rumours about me doing drugs and beating up people?” he asked.
“Well, I don’t tend to believe in rumours until I have an evidence that the rumours are true. So, do you do drugs and beat up people?” You suddenly became so immersed in the conversation, not paying a single attention to the pain from the needle.
For the first time after a long time, Jimin stopped drawing on your hand and looked up to meet your eyes.
“Well, I’ll tell you straight out and honestly. I don’t do drugs, neither of us do, but I do beat up people. I beat up people that mess with me or my friends,” He stared straight at your eyes.
The two of you stared at each other for a long time. From the tone of his voice and how he looked at you, you knew that he was not lying. And that meant that those rumours about him were false and you were right, Jimin was not the person that the rumours described him as. He couldn’t be the same person when he treated you, a person who he just met with such care. And from the short conversation with Hoseok you had, you had the feeling that he was also not the person that the rumours described him as. Because of this, you became more determined at finding Jimin’s true personality.
“Uh, guys? Is everything okay?” Hoseok’s voice suddenly interrupted your staring session.
Jimin quickly whipped his head down to your tattoo and you swore to God, you saw his cheeks dusted with pink colours. He wiped the excess ink from your arm and stood up.
“Okay, we’re done, I’ll be at the check out when you’re ready,” he said but never meeting your eyes even once. With that, he hurriedly left to the back with Hoseok on his tail.
“What was that?” you asked yourself. You shook your head and chuckled to yourself, then looked down to your freshly drawn tattoo. It was an image of a lotus flower. You weren’t sure about the meaning, but it sure did look pretty. You liked it a lot.
After admiring the tattoo, you stood up ready to go to the cashier. By the time you got there, Hoseok was the one who came out and served you. Your heart dropped a bit. Was Jimin mad at you? Did you offend him?
“Thanks for coming!” he said cheerfully.
“Thank you,” You forced a smile for him.
Sighing in defeat, you pulled the door open making the bell ring again. You were about to walk out when Jimin called you.
“Wait!” He took a hold of your first to stop you from leaving.
“Wait… here,” He shyly gave you a piece of paper with numbers scribbled on it. You looked at it in surprise. Did he just give you his phone number? Did Park Jimin just give you his phone number?
“It’s… my phone number. I’ve never had anybody who judged me outside the rumours, so I think you’re pretty special. Do you want to like grab a coffee or something tomorrow?” He asked while rubbing the back of his neck.
Holy cow, did Park Jimin just asked you out on a date? Did your plan work out then?
“Yeah, I would love to,” you took the paper from him and smiled at him.
Word count: 2312
This scenario did exceed my thoughts, it’s VERY long. Anyways, this was a request from an anon, I hope you liked it :)
Btw, I don’t really know how tattoos work, so I’m not sure if I got the procedures right.
We’re so immunised to deaths of Iraqi bodies, that suicide bomber killing young children in a football stadium doesn’t warrant global outrage. Boys from the ages of 10 to 16 were being presented trophies for their talents in the sport when IS killed them. Bear in mind the importance of football in Iraq, it holds the biggest form of unity to the people of Iraq, Sunni, Shi’a, Christian, none of it matters when it comes to football. IS strategically did this at a football tournament to show that nothing is safe. These were young children killed far too early.
It’s frightening the place that white bodies hold in times like this over brown bodies. As Teju Cole once called it, we’re ‘unmournable bodies’.
Victim of Nazi medical experiment immersed in freezing water at Dachau concentration camp. SS doctor Sigmund Rascher oversees the experiment. Germany, 1942
Physicians within the third reich would regularly carry out entirely unethical human experimentation on concentration camp prisoners, These experiments would serve a variety of purposes, one of the most important was to aid their military efforts during the war, they would perform a number of tests on prisoners to determine the likes of safe altitudes using low pressure chambers, the effects - and treatment for - hypothermia and how to make sea water potable.
They also tested in a more general medical sense, looking for immunisations for a number of diseases, such as typhus, malaria, hepatitis, tuberculosis and yellow fever. They also tested bone grafting on non-consenting patients, and the effects and treatment for exposure to mustard gas and other chemical warfare.
Due to the eugenic ideals behind the mass ethnic cleansing that was occurring, doctors also used medical experimentation to advance their ideals, looking at how different races responded to different contagious diseases, and used these results to reinforce their ideas of racial inferiority. The most notorious physician who was involved in these particular experiments was Dr. Josef Mengele.
Taking In Strays - Chapter 5 - Steve Rogers Fanfic
A/N: Oh lookie… things are going all sweet and happy for Steve and Emily… and hey, added parental units… Also please note i wrote this in wordpad that doesn’t have spellcheck so i am sorry for any horrific spelling/grammar mistakes! Fic Summary: Emily Embers is at rock bottom, doing what she can to care for her son after the death of her husband. A fall on an icy street finds her in the arms of Steve Rogers, who offers her some assistance that she gratefully accepts, but little does Steve know just how deep he will have to get himself into someone elses world in order to save them. Chapter Summary: Settling into life with Steve, Emily has some big decisions to make about who is included in their lives, and what roles they’ll play. But when she both lives and works with someone, she finds that the line between friendship and taking things further can soon become blurred. Triggers/Warnings: Unwanted Advances, Steve in his underpants… plus another one that i really can’t say here because it is literally the twist at the end, so i apologise now if it causes anyone any issues.
Bucky stood staring at Emily,
but her reaction was not what he was expecting;
“How did you get that?!”
“Its… Its mine”
“What do you mean its
yours? How can it be yours? Is this some SHEILD thing? Did you
intercept my mail?”
By now she was on her feet, her
brow furrowed as she stalked across the room and went to yank the
letter from Bucky’s hands, yet he pre-empted her move and swiped it
high above her reach, holding her back with his metal arm;
“No! You can’t take this
away from me Emily, its the truth and i’ve never felt happier than
when i read your letter…”
Olivia, my eldest daughter, caught measles when she was seven years old. As the illness took its usual course I can remember reading to her often in bed and not feeling particularly alarmed about it. Then one morning, when she was well on the road to recovery, I was sitting on her bed showing her how to fashion little animals out of coloured pipe-cleaners, and when it came to her turn to make one herself, I noticed that her fingers and her mind were not working together and she couldn’t do anything.
“Are you feeling all right?” I asked her.
“I feel all sleepy,” she said.
In an hour, she was unconscious. In twelve hours she was dead.
The measles had turned into a terrible thing called measles encephalitis and there was nothing the doctors could do to save her. That was twenty-four years ago in 1962, but even now, if a child with measles happens to develop the same deadly reaction from measles as Olivia did, there would still be nothing the doctors could do to help her.
On the other hand, there is today something that parents can do to make sure that this sort of tragedy does not happen to a child of theirs. They can insist that their child is immunised against measles. I was unable to do that for Olivia in 1962 because in those days a reliable measles vaccine had not been discovered. Today a good and safe vaccine is available to every family and all you have to do is to ask your doctor to administer it.
It is not yet generally accepted that measles can be a dangerous illness. Believe me, it is. In my opinion parents who now refuse to have their children immunised are putting the lives of those children at risk. In America, where measles immunisation is compulsory, measles like smallpox, has been virtually wiped out.
Here in Britain, because so many parents refuse, either out of obstinacy or ignorance or fear, to allow their children to be immunised, we still have a hundred thousand cases of measles every year. Out of those, more than 10,000 will suffer side effects of one kind or another. At least 10,000 will develop ear or chest infections. About 20 will die.
LET THAT SINK IN.
Every year around 20 children will die in Britain from measles.
So what about the risks that your children will run from being immunised?
They are almost non-existent. Listen to this. In a district of around 300,000 people, there will be only one child every 250 years who will develop serious side effects from measles immunisation! That is about a million to one chance. I should think there would be more chance of your child choking to death on a chocolate bar than of becoming seriously ill from a measles immunisation.
So what on earth are you worrying about? It really is almost a crime to allow your child to go unimmunised.
The ideal time to have it done is at 13 months, but it is never too late. All school-children who have not yet had a measles immunisation should beg their parents to arrange for them to have one as soon as possible.
Incidentally, I dedicated two of my books to Olivia, the first was ‘James and the Giant Peach’. That was when she was still alive. The second was 'The BFG’, dedicated to her memory after she had died from measles. You will see her name at the beginning of each of these books. And I know how happy she would be if only she could know that her death had helped to save a good deal of illness and death among other children.
Roald Dahl – author of such books as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, and Matilda
So, there’s a myth that often runs alongside the Medusa mythology, that her gaze can turn you to stone… unless she bites you, in whichcase her venom is a temporary preventative.
So maybe, Deuce’s venom glands finally come in… and maybe he wants to see if he can make this work like his Mumster does; tries it out on Cleo first, then takes off his glasses with incredible trepidation.
And for the first time in their entire relationship, Cleo can gaze directly into his eyes, without turning into a temporary monument. She doesn’t say anything; that GREEN is just… it’s like-… they’re so-… she can’t think of a comparison, they’re just mesmerising.
For a moment, Deuce thinks he might have just accidentally turned his ghoulfiend into a non-stone statue by mistake… but then she blinks, and smiles.
“I have the perfect outfit to go with those eyes…” Cleo says, and Deuce knows everything is fine. At least, until she frowns and his heart drops in concern. She puts a considering finger to her lips as the Princess of Ancient Egypt muses, “Of corpse, if you wanted to fang out at school or with our fiends like this, then…”
The sentence trails off, and Deuce blinks in realisation.
Oh… this was going to take a lot of hexplaining.
And so it did.
But his close ghoul, boo and non-bitenary fiends were pretty cool with it; the most common point of negotiation was when and where they tested it out.
He was pretty certain the creatures thought something was up (the Fa-Cruelty were willing to turn a blind eye to many things, but they weren’t oblivious), but none really stopped them or intervened in ‘whatever crazy thing that one group of students had going on this week’. They were used to shit going don in their fiendship group, and wanted no part of it… as long as the school wasn’t directly in danger.
Mainly it was a case of trial and error; all the different monster types had different tolerances, and that meant he had to top it up at different times (although, the other alternative was spending one day a month biting people, so perhaps it was easier on his jaw this way -Deuce couldn’t wait until the snakes got their venom sacks, so they could take some of the responsibility).
It meant a lot of people got stoned at random intervals in the first term of shieldless-Deuce. One minute they were talking, and the next… he had to wait a few hours/days to apologise.
Ghoulia had literally made him a schedule for it. That ghoul was just the best, sometimes.
Cleo loved flaunting him about without his glasses; and she doubly-enjoyed the part wherein anyone not in their (from her perspective, ‘hand-picked’) group of friends, immediately turned to stone as they strode by. While a handful of students waved back or greeted them, unafraid to look a Gorgon undead-in-the-eyes, for the first time in his unlife.
Para-naturally, there were some queries… as to why certain students were coming home with… what several misguided parents had termed ‘hickeys’ at the juncture of neck and shoulder. A spot Ghoulia had calculated as most effective, with least ongoing impairment of the area (for example, biting someone on the hand meant they had a wound that would pull everytime they moved, wrote, or lifted something). But Cleo was a persuasive talker; and got most of them out of epic groundings.
Sure, there were a few mix-ups…
The wrong day. Maybe you were busy and circled the wrong date in your diary pre-Ghoulia’s-schedule… things happen.
Not realising the hybrids needed sightly more than normal monsters was awkward.
Venom wearing off a day too early. Testing phases were always difficult for everybody.
Side-effects from the initial bite weren’t great… a few caught monster colds while their immune systems tried to work out if it was fiend or foe.
Discovering that if there’s two people in a body, you have to bite both of them… but preferably not at the same time… or a DJ will appear as you’re biting their alter ego (bc they forgot about the musical timer on their icoffin set to go off before music), and assume something entirely more kinky is happening… (much to Cleo’s eternal amusement). Deuce just KNEW Holt was going to send him something ridiculous for next Valentine’s Day… he would never let this go.
The importance of finding a toothpaste that works for you. Seriously, showering aside, not everyone tastes great… it took DAYS to get the taste of certain monsters out of his mouth…
Working out who couldn’t be immunised ‘traditionally’, like Frankie. Unfortunately, she couldn’t get wet, and her ‘circulatory system’ amounted to a very complex bioelectric system woven throughout her patchwork body. Poison couldn’t be injected; but she could certainly benefit from a venom-infused poisonberry milkshake. She told Deuce it tasted somewhere between sweet-and-sour, like poisonberries, and she liked it. He really wasn’t sure where to go with that… but thanked her anyway.
That sometimes monsters have their own poisons, and it makes you unwell in exchange. So you both end up with colds, during exam week. Venus kept trying to apologise, and so did Deuce; but it basically ended up that the pair sat in sick bay passing each other tissues most of the day until their parents could come and get them.
If you try to help out a werewolf, werekat or something else with fur… have dental floss in your locker. Or it wasn’t ever coming out. And shedding season was the worst.
Sometimes waiting for them to come to you and ask is easier, and less awkweird than trying to explain why you want to basically bite/poison someone.
You can’t get complacent when it comes to casketball… sure, 95% of your teammates are immune, but if you don’t put on your goggles… there won’t BE a game. An easy win, but not an ethical one.
- - -
Still, it works out well.
And there’s something about not having to hide all the time; not having to be hyperaware of whether or not you’re wearing something over your eyes. Not having that momentary jolt in your chest as you startle and think, “Oh no, am I wearing glasses?” because you’ve grown so accustomed to having them on, they don’t feel like a separate part of you anymore.
For the most part, it’s gone. That anxiety.
Sure, it’s not an entirely flawless system. The effect is temporary for now; and things do go wrong on occasion… but, in a way it kind of is perfect.
The constant stress of wearing protective goggles is gone.
He can relax around fiends, even fall asleep and not be concerned about waking up and accidentally blasting someone because his glasses fell off…
Cleo can look him in the eyes, and whisper how they remind her of rare gemstones ancient royalty had had sent to her during the De Nile’s reign, of calm oceans she sailed on in centuries past, of the strange green of this country… when all she had grown up seeing was endless desert and oppulent temples. Of how they were her new favourite colour, and she would never tire of it…
And, the way he can look at the world around him, and the monsters in it whom he cared for, as they really were. No darkened tint, no distorted image… just things as they were meant to be. It was so odd, and comforting all at once.
Not wearing his glasses made him feel open; like he had nothing to hide from those around him… and it was amazing.
Even if there was that one occasion where Clair and Chad from New Salem High (the Normie school across the way) had walked in, caught him (back-turned thankfully) topping up Clad’s immunity for the month (Draculaura waiting patiently for her turn), and totally got the wrong impression. [The impression he got from the laughing-so-hard-he-could-barely-talk Jackson later on, was that the pair’s train of thoughts weren’t far off Holt’s original ideas about what was happening… and they wanted to know how Deuce got away with the ‘freaky kinky shit’ at school like that. And they would like to get in on it, please.]
Not to mention…
Deuce had a sneaking feeling his(s) mother knew what he had been up to at Monster High, (as he’d found a Handy-hints to Gorgon Venom guidebook on his bed a few weeks after they started testing how long each dose would work on other monster types -written in what looked suspiciously like her handwriting), but so far all Medusa had done in response was throw her son a collection of knowing looks everytime he came through the door, trying not to look like he’d hastily shoved his sunnies back on between Cleo’s limoscream and the front door.
But, in the end… all the difficult, awkweird, and downright frustrating parts of the trial-and-error stages… paid off.
Deuce Gorgon was completely content with the results; even if they weren’t always entirely positive. After all, he could look the monsters he cared about in the eye, and not be afraid that… that this time they might not de-stone.
to Grave explores our approach
to health in Britain today. The piece incorporates a lifetime supply of
prescribed drugs knitted into two lengths of fabric, illustrating the medical
stories of one woman and one man. Each length contains over 14,000 drugs, the
estimated average prescribed to every person in Britain in their lifetime. This
does not include pills we might buy over the counter, which would require about
40,000 pills each.
of the treatments are common to both: each starts at birth with an injection of
vitamin K and immunisations, and both take antibiotics and painkillers at
various times. Other treatments are more specific. The woman takes
contraceptive pills, and hormone replacement therapy in middle age. The man has
asthma and hay fever when young, but enjoys good health until his fifties. He
finally stops smoking after a bad chest infection when he is 70. He is treated
for high blood pressure for the last ten years of his life and has a heart
attack and dies of a stroke in his seventies. He takes as many pills in the
last ten years of his life as in the first 66.
to Grave also contains family
photographs and other personal objects and documents. The captions, written by
the owners, trace typical events in people’s lives. These show that maintaining
a sense of well-being is more complex than just treating episodes of illness.
to Grave by Pharmacopoeia (2003) is on display in Room 24.
Pharmacopoeia are Susie Freeman, Dr Liz Lee and David Critchley.
As the opening notes of the National Anthem echoes through her primary school, Cindy Lim stands at attention and sings softly as the Singapore flag is raised during the morning assembly.
Unlike her other Singapore-born schoolmates, however, Cindy is not allowed to raise the state flag. She has to pay higher fees if she joins a school camp. And even though she comes from a low-income family, the Primary 5 student is not eligible for financial assistance from the Education Ministry.
Cindy, who scores excellent grades in her studies and has been a school prefect for three years, is not entirely sure why she is treated differently, but she suspects it may have something to do with an unusual entry in her birth certificate that reads: “The child is not a citizen of Singapore at the time of birth.”
The 11-year-old was born in Singapore to an Indonesian mother and a stateless father who died of kidney failure last year. Her father, originally a Malaysian who was brought to Singapore from Selangor as a baby, became stateless after renouncing his citizenship while refusing to serve the National Service here when he got the enlistment call.
Cindy’s mother, Madam Yulyana, 48, who lives in Singapore as a long-term pass holder, said: “Seven days after my daughter’s delivery, I followed my husband to the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) because I cannot believe what happened.
“I have a country. Why is she stateless? They explained that it is because the father is stateless.”
More than 1,000 people in Singapore share Cindy’s highly unusual and complicated legal status. While some successfully obtain Singapore citizenship, many find themselves in limbo for years, even decades.
Take Ms Wang Mei Har, 46. She was born at Kandang Kerbau Hospital (now KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital) but was not registered as a Singaporean at birth because her parents, whose marriage had soured, did not produce their marriage certificate.
When she had to register for her identity card at 12, Ms Wang could not produce a photocopy of her Malaysian mother’s identity card because she has never met her mother. Her Singaporean father ran away that year, and she was later raised by his ex-girlfriend.
Being stateless is no mere administrative quirk. It has major real-life implications for an individual, as well as his or her children.
For instance, Ms Wang, who is stateless and a single mother, cannot rent or buy a Housing and Development Board flat on her own.
Her six-year-old son Leon, also classified as stateless, is not entitled to free childhood immunisations, childcare subsidies, or subsidised rates at a polyclinic.
The boy enrolled for Primary 1 late last month, later than most prospective pupils. Ms Wang was told by a school administrator that Leon would be placed at the back of the queue with other non-residents. Even if he manages to secure a place, Ms Wang worries about whether she can afford the unsubsidised school fees, which will come up to S$550 a month. The S$1,200 a month she earns as an assistant at Trinity Casket is barely enough for their daily needs, Ms Wang said.
Two appeals to gain Singapore citizenship for Leon failed. “I’ve lived here all my life,” Ms Wang told TODAY in a recent interview.
“I want to contribute to society. But I don’t have the right certificates and my salary is not high. I don’t know how I can meet the conditions (for citizenship). But Leon is just a child, and shouldn’t be deprived of chances.”
When approached, the ICA said that it would not discuss individual cases with the media. A spokesperson told TODAY: “Any person who wishes to apply for Singapore citizenship, including those who are stateless, would have to meet prevailing eligibility requirements. Each application is carefully assessed on its own merits.”
There are 1,411 stateless people living in Singapore as of Jan 31 this year, official statistics show. About six in 10 are men. Most of them — 1,048 to be precise — are aged 50 and above.
They fall into three broad categories: Singapore permanent residents (PRs) who have lost their foreign citizenship, children born to foreign nationals who are not recognised in their home countries, and people born in pre-independence Singapore who are unable to prove their country of birth. Between 2003 and 2012, some 500 to 600 stateless persons applied for citizenship each year, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said in a written Parliamentary reply in 2013. Nine in 10 of them successfully received citizenship, he added.
Applicants are assessed on several factors, such as whether they can contribute to society or prove their intention to reside in Singapore permanently. Stateless persons are not treated as exceptional cases, TODAY understands. They also have to prove that they can financially support themselves and their dependants, while demonstrating good conduct — which depends on their employment record, National Service performance, and whether they have a criminal record.
In some of the straightforward cases, the stateless persons were able to obtain citizenship after finishing National Service, marrying a Singaporean or attaining the minimum annual taxable income of S$22,000.
Those who have been rejected typically have exceedingly low income or a criminal record, such as Mr Chong On Long.
The 69-year-old is the only one in his family of nine who is stateless. They came to pre-independent Singapore by train from Malaysia some 60 years ago and chose to stay behind, but Mr Chong did not bring along the necessary identity documents and became stateless.
His family members have since become Singapore citizens, but Mr Chong, who had been jailed several times for using drugs and illegal gambling, and has been jobless for long spells, remains stateless.
He says he does not wish to die a person without a country. “Give me a chance,” Mr Chong said in Mandarin. “I have turned over a new leaf. I have not done anything wrong since 1999.”
Last year, he approached his Member of Parliament (MP) in Hougang, Mr Png Eng Huat, for help to make a bid for citizenship. The appeal to ICA was not successful.
On Aug 18, Mr Chong made a trip to the ICA to try to submit his first formal application for citizenship. He was told to return in June next year to submit the paperwork.
NO EASY ANSWERS
Another Hougang resident, Mr Razali Mohamed, is also stateless. The 75-year-old, whose birth was not registered in the turbulent times shortly before the 1942 Japanese Occupation, has a dash (–) written in the nationality field on his 1959-issued identity card.
When his two daughters were born, the word “undetermined” was written on their birth certificates. One of the daughters became a citizen after marrying a Singaporean.
For Cindy, her mother tried to find another way out through the Indonesian authorities, but was rebuffed. Madam Yulyana, whose own applications for PR status in Singapore have been rejected, said: “The Indonesian embassy did not accede to my request to get Indonesian citizenship for my daughter. I am very confused now.”
The unusual plight of these individuals resurfaced in Parliament this January when MPs Png and Christopher De Souza (Holland-Bukit Timah GRC) asked if the Government could consider taking a compassionate view and review the citizenship criteria for them.
Mr De Souza suggested that stateless persons, born and bred in Singapore, are more deserving of being considered for citizenship compared to potential new citizens. “While proper safeguards must be put in place to prevent any abuse of the process, I believe that compassion and acceptance must go hand-in-hand with pragmatism in ensuring that our own are not neglected or forgotten,” he said.
Addressing the MPs’ query in a Budget debate in April, Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs Desmond Lee said that the Government must be “clear-headed” about who should receive PR and citizenship status. “We do not want to automatically grant somebody such a status just because he or she has been residing here for a long time. This would not be in Singapore’s interests,” he said.
However, he added that the Home Affairs Ministry looked at the circumstances behind all the cases, and assessed each application “compassionately and sympathetically, especially for those who have integrated well and can contribute to Singapore”.
“The considerations may not be apparent … but we certainly do not reject cases out of hand,” Mr Lee said.
Mr Png, who has written to the ICA on behalf of two stateless persons, said that it would be tremendously helpful if the rejections for citizenship came with a reason.
“These people are not illegal immigrants per se,” he added. “They didn’t sneak in here that we have to offer amnesty. They have been here since day one … Should they celebrate National Day? Should they feel a sense of belonging? It is a very awkward position to be in,” he said.
Stateless individuals are not issued passports. They will have to apply for a Certificate of Identity (above) should they need to leave the country.
A HELPING HAND
Among the stateless in Singapore, 85 per cent are PRs who are eligible for healthcare, education and housing benefits. For the other 15 per cent, life can be a struggle.
They worry about falling sick, as medical consultation fees at hospitals or polyclinics cost at least three times more than what a citizen would pay. Finding a job with a “stateless” label is also difficult.
When asked where non-PR stateless persons could turn to for help, the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) said that the care and protection of those below the age of 16 are safeguarded by the Children and Young Persons Act. “(The Act) does not differentiate by nationality and covers all children in Singapore,” its spokesperson said.
The Ministry of Education said that stateless school-going children are considered “non-Asean international students”. For Leon, who falls into this classification, school fees can cost up to S$550 a month in primary school and S$800 a month in secondary school. Singapore citizens in primary schools do not have to pay school fees.
Ms Wang Mei Har’s son, Leon, who is stateless like her, is required to renew a Special Pass every six months to ensure that his stay in Singapore remains legal.
Cindy, who is considered a stateless PR like her late father, has to pay S$110 in school fees each month. A social worker has been paying her fees after learning that the girl is not eligible for financial assistance.
As for adults, the MSF spokesperson said that the ministry would refer individuals and families who need financial aid to the Family Service Centres where necessary, and the centres would assess their situations, provide social support and direct them to appropriate community resources for more help if needed.
Of the five families with stateless members that TODAY interviewed, only one is aware of this channel of assistance.
The Singapore Children’s Society, which operates 11 service centres, told TODAY that it has not come across any cases of stateless children in the past year. The society helps to get school placements for stateless children who are brought to its attention because of “their non-registration in a primary school”. Ms Joy Lim, assistant director of the society’s research and outreach centre, said: “We look primarily into the educational needs of the child over here.” Five other family service centres are not certain about whether they can help non-PR stateless persons since they are mandated to serve only citizens and PRs.
Care Corner spokesperson Lynn Lu said: “I don’t know if I can broadly say that Care Corner helps (the stateless), but when it comes to PRs, there is no differentiation.”
Ms Queenie Quek, an executive at Lakeside Family Services’ Community Partnerships, said that the centre provides shelter services to clients referred by Family Service Centres on a case-by-case basis.
When contacted, Nee Soon GRC MP Louis Ng said that he agrees with the central focus of the UN Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, which is to prevent statelessness at birth by requiring states to grant citizenship to children born on their territory, or born to their nationals abroad, who would otherwise be stateless.
Mr Ng said: “That’ll make sense to give every child a fair chance at life. There is no other home for them … It was a series of unfortunate events that got to them.”
Today I thought I’d write about the different types of
vaccination available and why you may choose to use each one.
Just to recap, vaccines work by deliberately exposing an animal
to a safe version of a pathogen/ antigen in order to generate an immune
response, causing them to produce antibodies and memory cells ready for if they
encounter the pathogen again. Two words not to get mixed up in this post are
antigen and antibody. An antigen is a protein on a pathogen that elicits an
immune response whereas an antibody is a protein produced by the immune system
to counteract the antigen/ pathogen’s effects. There are two main brackets of
vaccination, passive and active.
Passive immunity is seen naturally when mothers pass on their
antibodies to their young be that through the placenta as seen in humans, or
through milk and colostrum as seen in most veterinary species. We can utilise
passive immunity to treat certain diseases. Antibodies can be collected from an
immune individual and transferred to a non-immune animal to provide immediate,
short-lasting protection. This type of immunisation lasts a few months maximum and
is used in situations where there’s a high risk of infection and insufficient
time for the body to generate its own response. An example would be a horse,
not vaccinated for tetanus, with a cut leg. Injecting the site with antibodies
derived from an immunised horse’s blood serum means that the animal has
antibodies at the site of infection ready to fight off tetanus specific
pathogens. This technique is also used in animals suffering from snake bites.
Another veterinary use of passive immunisation is to exploit
maternally derived antibodies. Here you vaccinate the mother against organisms
likely to infect her offspring. She then generates an immune response and, once
her offspring are born, the antibodies generated are passed on to them through
her milk. In cows this is often done 3-12 weeks prior to their calving due date,
protecting the calves from rotavirus, corona virus and certain pathogenic
strains of E. coli.
Active immunisation is the one most commonly seen in
practice. It provides immunisation that is more long term than the passive
approach however has a delay in onset as the immune system formulates its
response. I’m going to briefly talk about the 6 main types of active
A killed vaccine is formed from a pathogen that has been
treated (either by chemicals or radiation) to ensure that it can no longer
replicate inside the host. This means that it still elicits a response, as the
pathogen retains the same form and antigens as its live counterpart, however the
immune response may be weaker as the pathogen isn’t multiplying. Killed
vaccines often have to be administered at least twice (3-4 weeks apart) to
generate immunity, and are often mixed with adjuvant. Adjuvants are chemicals
or microbial components that aid the vaccine in generating a response. Oily
substances can be added to ensure the antigen in the vaccine is slowly
distributed to the lymph nodes, instead of in one big wave, leading to a
greater response due to longer exposure of the node to the antigen. An example
is the Nobivac Rabies vaccination.
Modified live (attenuated) vaccines are live strains of the
pathogen mutated to have very low virulence. This means they can infect and
replicate within the host without causing disease. These strains can be derived
from culturing the pathogen in unfavourable environments and using the strains
that mutate to suit this environment in the vaccine. An example could be
growing a virus in an environment that is 35 degrees instead of 37. Those that
mutate and evolve to thrive at this temperature can then be used inside the
body where they are no longer fully adapted to live at 37 degrees. As
technology has advanced we can now directly change the pathogen’s genome to
ensure they are less pathogenic. This technique is being used to create live
bacterial vaccines, as most of the current available live vaccines are against
viruses. The Nobivac Parvo-C vaccine uses a live, attenuated form of canine
parvovirus. These vaccines usually don’t contain an adjuvant and can be given
as a single dose once the animal is over 12 weeks old.
Subunit vaccines use specific antigens selected from the
pathogen. This requires isolating and purifying the protein required. This can
be done by growing the microbe in a laboratory then using a chemical to break
away the antigen. Another approach is to use recombinant DNA technology,
creating bacteria that express the protein as one of its genes. This protein
can then be collected and purified. The immune responses created to this
vaccine are very specific which can lead to less side effects. Downsides are
again that the responses aren’t as strong as a live vaccine so the vaccines
commonly need to be re-administered 3-4 weeks later.
A toxoid vaccine is aimed at bacterial infections where the
bacteria produce harmful endotoxins causing their pathogenic effects. Toxoids
are an inactivate form of this toxin retaining the same structure. This means
that when injected, the body creates antibodies that neutralise the effects of
the toxin, educating the immune system to its structure ready for if the animal
The next two vaccines are very clever. They use a technique
in which the DNA of the pathogen that encodes for antigens is inserted in to
the cells of the animal. The cells read the DNA and generate the proteins that
the DNA codes for. Once this protein is produced the cells recognise it as
foreign and present it on their surfaces for the immune system to see,
eliciting a response and forming antibodies. This can be via a DNA vaccine
where the DNA alone or in a bacterial plasmid vector is inserted in the body to
be taken up by cells, or through a recombinant viral vaccine where the genes
are cloned in to a viral vector which enters the cells as a normal virus does,
causing the DNA to be replicated. There is a vaccine called ONCEPT canine
melanoma, the website is linked here, which uses this DNA technology to target
malignant melanoma tumours. The DNA is derived from humans and transcribes the
human version of the deficient protein. This is ‘foreign’ enough for the canine
body to elicit an immune response, however similar enough for the antibodies to
also attack the canine version of the protein, expressed in the cancer causing
cells. Interesting stuff! The vaccine is administered trans-dermally (through
the skin) using a device that fires the DNA vaccine particles at high pressure
through the skin of the thigh!
There’s so much more I could say about vaccines but it’ll
have to wait for another day as this post has already got quite long!
Vegan mother loses court battle over whether children should be vaccinated
A mother who objects to vaccinations because she is vegan has lost her court battle over whether her children will be immunised.
A family court judge ruled that her two children - aged two and four - should be vaccinated despite their mother’s objections.
Judge Mark Rogers had been asked to settle a dispute over immunisation between their separated mother and father.
The woman said her children were “very healthy” and “fed only natural products”.
She said there was a “definite risk” with vaccination and said the potential risks were greater than the potential benefits.
But the youngsters’ father wanted them immunised and Judge Rogers ruled in his favour.
Detail has emerged in a ruling by the judge following a family court hearing in Lincoln.
“Vaccines contain products that I would not want my children’s bodies to accommodate,” the woman told the judge.
“It is not natural to be injected with metal elements and as a vegan it goes against my beliefs for my children to be injected with something that is grown on animal cells or something that has been tested on animals.”
Judge Rogers concluded that immunisation was in the children’s best interest.
The ruling comes after a judge ruled earlier this year that a seven-month old baby should be vaccinated against infections which could lead to meningitis despite his mother’s opposition.
The boy’s mother said the Hib and PCV vaccines could cause adverse reactions but social services said vaccination was in the youngster’s best interests - and Mr Justice MacDonald agreed.
|| song in the chapter: Lucky by Jason Mraz ft. Colby Caillat
I felt ecstatic. The way his fingers were tangled in my auburn mane, feeling those long digits play inside me. Being immersed in felicity by his smooth lips…
My body stiffened as an act to immunise from soreness and further fatigue. The frigid surface of the ground did not compensate the pain I had endured. The excruciating headache erupted as though boulders pounded against my temples. The previous night was a complete blur. As unbearable as it was, I forced my palms flat onto the tiles, bringing myself up, just enough for my vision to meet the top of the nightstand.
Immunisation as the gateway to health: why women hold the key in Pakistan
Anuradha Gupta, Deputy CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.
Photo: Gavi/ Isaac Griberg.
Her name was Nusarat. She was young and petite with gleaming, hopeful eyes – the only thing I could see from behind her veil. She had a four-month-old baby on her lap whom she had brought in to be vaccinated. She told me she was 22 years old, got married at 20 and had two children in quick succession. As she was not happy with the situation, she had now decided to start family planning. When I asked what contraception she used, she blushed and said “we are doing something”.
She also told me that her first child was not vaccinated until she, on a friend’s advice, came to get a tetanus shot during her second pregnancy. Only then was she informed about child vaccination and its benefits. It was clear that Nusarat would not talk about these personal issues unless it was to a woman who seemed friendly and supportive.
Several young mothers like Nusarat were waiting patiently and silently for their turn at the crowded immunisation site in a large slum in Lahore. The male vaccinator was concentrating on giving shots to the children, somewhat mechanically. Still, it was rewarding to see children receiving protection against life-threatening diseases. Child mortality rates remain high in Pakistan – more than 1,000 children die every day before celebrating their fifth birthday, and vaccine-preventable diseases account for half of these deaths (pneumonia causes 27% of child deaths and diarrhoea another 20%, with measles and meningitis also claiming many young lives).
A mother waiting to get her baby vaccinated, Indus hospital, Karachi. Photo: Gavi/ Isaac Griberg.
It was hard to argue with the vaccinator’s single-minded focus on injecting vaccines. The site was cramped, most women were inhibited in communicating with him and he had to simultaneously vaccinate and fill in the details of each child in the register on his table. Concentrating on the task at hand, he did not encourage any conversation.
But the scene left me with several questions. Does the fact that Pakistan only has male vaccinators inhibit coverage? Do some women find approaching a male vaccinator a barrier that is difficult to cross and therefore decide not to take their children to be vaccinated? Are precious opportunities for integration with other health services being lost unnecessarily?
In most countries supported by Gavi, it is customary to have female frontline health workers. Often they do not only vaccinate children but also take the opportunity to talk to mothers about a range of maternal and child health issues. Even though we would all like to see fathers more involved in childhood immunisation, in reality it is still almost always mothers who bring their children to vaccination sessions.
The author speaks to a mother at a vaccination site in Lahore. Photo: Gavi/Isaac Griberg.
Understandably, it is easier for women to have a conversation with a female health worker around issues of contraception or breastfeeding. In a cultural setting like Pakistan, in particular, where women may be diffident and constrained in their communication with unfamiliar men, not having female vaccinators could be a serious missed opportunity for delivering immunisation together with other reproductive, maternal and child health services.
There is increasing recognition that immunisation can be the gateway to a range of other health services. Vaccination can be leveraged to bundle services and generate broader awareness, not just around reproductive, maternal and child health but also issues like sanitation, nutrition and hygiene.
During my previous visits to Laos and the Democratic Republic of Congo, I saw efforts in this direction. Another example is my own country, India, which has repositioned immunisation days as Village Health, Sanitation and Nutrition Days. The aim is to mobilise the country’s 150,000 female frontline health workers to use outreach immunisation sessions more effectively to the benefit of mothers, children and communities.
Pakistan has already started training its Lady Health Workers to provide immunisation, replacing the current model of male-only vaccinators. This could be a turning point for expanding immunisation coverage through better communication and trust-building with mothers. Immunisation sessions could then finally be used to their full potential.