Gloria has fallen in love with a plush moose that I bought at the Stockholm airport. When I was pregnant, I gave it to Stefan "for practice," and since then the moose has patiently waited for its cue. It came when Gloria learned to point with her index finger. If her Swedish friend is in sight, she excitedly points and says "Da! Da! Da!" and, if one lets her, she takes the plush moose everywhere.
Lara has learned to drink with a straw, but my efforts to teach Gloria the same have so far been futile. Gloria is generally more picky with things that go into her mouth; she clearly doesn't like vegetables, and every other day refuses to drink juice. On the upside, she has learned that cardboard isn't edible, a lesson that I hope Lara learns before she has eaten up all picture books. We upgraded Lara to the next cloths size; she is now noticeably taller than her sister.
Next week, the babies are scheduled for the meningococcal vaccination, and then we're through with the first round of all the standard vaccinations: diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, streptococcus pneumoniae, haemophilus influenzae type b, hepatitis b, measles, mumps, rubella and varicella.
I am always shocked when I read about parents who aren't vaccinating their children. I thought that's a problem which exists only in the USA, but our pediatrician puzzled me last year by beginning our first appointment with a forward defense against arguments we hadn't intended to lead.
After some reading, I learned that about 3-5% of Germans believe vaccinations are unnecessary or harmful. UNICEF estimates that in 2009 in Germany the national coverage with the first measles vaccination was 96%. In the USA it was 92%. The basic reproduction number R of measles is estimated to be 12-18. Measles are one of the most contagious diseases known. The percentage of people that have to be immune to prevent a spread of the infection is roughly 1-1/R, for measles that's more than 93%; for mumps and rubella about 80%. However, not everybody who is vaccinated becomes immune.
Too few people know that the reason why the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccination is repeated at least once is not that an individual's immunization is improved, but that in at least 5% of all cases the vaccination fails entirely. Our pediatrician said, 5% is what the vaccine producers are claiming, what he sees in practice is 20-30%. One of the probable reasons is that the MMR vaccine has to be kept cold, and any mistake along the delivery line makes the vaccine ineffective. The follow-up vaccination is supposed to bring down the failure rate, 1-(5/100)(5/100) > 0.99, or so the idea. But more realistically 0.96 (1-(20/100)(20/100)) ≈ 92% in Germany, or ≈ 88% in the USA.
And so, measles are far from going extinct and smaller outbreaks still happen. Sadly enough, even in Germany, people still die from measles. The case reported in the article is particularly tragic: A young boy, whose parents refused vaccination, fell sick with measles and, in the doctor's waiting room, infected 6 children, some too young to have been vaccinated; one died.
Ah, I am lecturing again, even though this was supposed to be a family-update post, sorry ;o)
So back on topic, Gloria and Lara had only mild side-effects from the vaccinations. We have exchanged the backward facing baby car seats with forward facing seats, and the girls can now enjoy watching the cars go by, while we can enjoy watching the babies watching. I didn't know how much I hated the backward facing seats till they were gone.
And I should stop referring to Lara and Gloria as "the babies" because they are now officially toddlers.