Tag Archive for 'vaccines'

Yikes! A presidential commission on vaccines?

In 10 January 2017’s Washington (DC, US) Post, Abby Phillip, Lena H. Sun, and Lenny Bernstein reported that US President-elect Donald J. Trump is apparently considering creating a commission on autism. The sensational headline is “Vaccine skeptic Robert Kennedy Jr. says Trump asked him to lead commission on ‘vaccine safety’.”

There are multiple other versions of this item,

  1. Dan Merica of CNN (with video): “Trump team denies skeptic Robert F. Kennedy Jr. was asked to head vaccine commission“;
  2. CBS News: “ Robert Kennedy Jr. says he will chair “vaccination safety” committee for Trump“; and
  3. Domenico Montenaro of NPR with “Despite The Facts, Trump Once Again Embraces Vaccine Skeptics.”

And, for an opinion piece on the “news” event, see Brandy Zadrozny’s take from The Daily Beast, “Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Compared Vaccines to a Holocaust—and Now Trump Wants Him to Investigate Their ‘Safety’Notorious anti-vaxxer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. thinks pediatricians are like Nazi concentration camp guards—and Trump just gave him the power to promote the disproven vaccine-autism link.”

The rights of the unvaccinated child by Professor D. R. Reiss

Over on Shot of Prevention, Dorit Rubinstein Reiss—she’s a Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law—has a series of articles examining “The Rights of the Unvaccinated Child.” As of my posting here, the first two of the five-part series are available. These make highly recommended reading.

  1. The Rights of the Unvaccinated Child: The Legal Framework
  2. The Rights of the Unvaccinated Child: Tort Liability

Learn more about Professor Reiss from her faculty biography at Hastings.

Bad Astronomy on bad TV programming

Phil Plait, who is known for his “Bad Astronomy” Web presence (and let’s not confuse that with astrology, which is bad, forsooth!), hit the Internet with a critique of Jennifer “Jenny” McCarthy’s appointment to host a television show. Over on his Slate blog, Mr. Plait (he has a Ph.D. from the university where I teach, so I could say “Dr.” but we refer to each other as “Ms.” or “Mr.” in this neighborhood) provides what I might describe as something close to a blistering indictment of the appointment:

I was hoping I wouldn’t have to write this post, but here we are: The daytime talk show The View has indeed hired Jenny McCarthy as a co-host. I wrote about this last week, alerting people to the possibility, and now it’s now been confirmed. She’ll find her spot on the program this fall.

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Vaccination “free-riders”

Over on Scientific American, Janet D. Stemwedel reprised a blog post she ran in 2009 about how people who refuse to vaccinate their children against major diseases are taking advantage of the efforts by others to protect their children and their neighbors. She refers to people who adopt this strategy as “free-riders” (and I’ll leave it up to readers to review the full discussion of the term), while making the important arguments about people considering staying out of the herd, if they’re not willing to do their part for the herd.

Read the newer version entitled “The ethics of opting out of vaccination” and the original entitled Trust and accountability in the vaccine-autism wars as well as the follow-up piece with her discussion of comments “Vaccine refuseniks are free-riders” (beware: the link to the second post that appears in the last post goes 404).

Deer’s fraud case in BMJ

Brian Deer, the journalist who has doggedly pursued the story about a link between materials in vaccines and the onset of childhood Autism proposed by Dr. Andrew Wakefield and colleagues in the late 1990s, has published details explaining why he considers the original research establishing that link to have been fraudulent. In the first of a series of articles appearing in the prestigious British Medical Journal, Mr. Deer reports the results of his efforts to locate and interview the originally anonymous parents of the children included in the study by Dr. Wakefield et al.—which was published in the Lancet and then retracted—and it is sure to generate lots of heat, and perhaps a little bit of light.
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Wakefield finding: Pro & con

As most readers probably know, the UK General Medical Council censured Dr. Andrew Wakefield for his research that supposedly shows a link between immunization with the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism. The Autism corner of the blogosphere has been rife with discussion (more than what I can up with keep). However, Liz Ditz has been maintaining a catalog of notes pro and con regarding the finding. For those who are interested, read Andrew Wakefield: Dishonesty, Misleading Conduct, and Serious Professional Misconduct: Blog Posts Critical of Verdict; Blog Posts Approving of Verdict

Also see theBBC news coverage, MMR scare doctor ‘acted unethically’ panel finds, and the UK Telegraph story, “GMC brands Dr Andrew Wakefield ‘dishonest, irresponsible and callous’.”

I want to note that readers should understand that the GMC investigation, though very important, did not expressly examine the scientific basis of Dr. Wakefield’s case. The findings discuss whether he was qualified to do the work and followed procedures in seeking approval for it. The scientific strength of the findings from the study in question have been examined extensively by well-qualified researchers and found wanting, though (see, for example, Hornig et al., 2008).

C0nc0rdance’s anti-vax takedown

An individual who goes by the screen name C0nc0rdance posted a pair of videos to YouTube on 1 October 2009 that make a clear and compelling case for ignoring ill-reasoned arguments recommending that parents avoid vaccinating their children.

When we make risky decisions about our health, it’s always good to be in possession of all the facts, to let our brains, and not our hearts, make the decision. Your child is thousands of times more likely to die from a preventable disease you didn’t vaccinate them against than to develop autism from a vaccine you did give them. The case for autism and vaccines is solely based on weak correlations and emotional responses.

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Snyder on Sears

Over on Science-Based Medicine, John Snyder has an extended post that systematically analyzes the assertions of Robert Sears about vaccinating children. The title is “Cashing In On Fear: The Danger of Dr. Sears.” Highly recommended.