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Posts tagged ‘Vaccination’

Get a flu shot

Get a flu shot. I got mine. They work. By spreading disease, you might kill someone by giving it to them.

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Something that should be illegal

I found this article advocating that parents who don’t vaccinate their kids be subject to criminal charges or civil sanctions.

The article makes a good point. Anti–vaxxers are a threat to public health. There are certain people, such as those with weakened immune systems, or the extremely young, who cannot take them. Those people are therefore dependent on herd immunity to avoid getting sick and possibly dying. Anti–vaxxers therefore are potentially giving a disease to people who might die from it.

And people who (falsely) think vaccinations cause autism are either outright malicious or haven’t thought through to the logical consequences of their beliefs. I mean, vaccines prevent deadly diseases. And by refusing vaccinations for their children, they are in effect choosing a greater risk of dying over (according to their beliefs) a lower chance of autism. In other words, they’d rather their kid die than get autism. Do those people even know what they’re saying about themselves?

So yes, there should be no “philosophical” or religious exemptions for vaccinations, and refusers should be criminally charged. Anti–vaxxers are a threat to themselves and others, and in this respect are clearly unfit parents.

And while we’re at this, can we also treat refusals of newborn screening and choosing faith healing over modern medicine for dependent children? Far too many children have ended up dead because of this.

At least someone’s bringing the hammer down for public health

A hospital in Indiana has fired eight employees because they refused flu shots (via). Good. It’s about time someone grew a spine and stood up to religious extremists who put the health and lives of the public at risk. And can we start doing this in BC, now? Update: My apologies, I didn’t read the date carefully enough. This is from a year ago. But still, the principle behind it still holds.

And to those who want religious exemptions from doing the job the voluntarily signed up for, be careful what you wish for. (Indeed, I think that it is pretty likely that the same people who support the people in Indiana would object to this second group, even though both are using the same justifications for not doing what is necessary for their job).

Thanks a lot, anti–vaxxers

2012 was the worst year for whooping cough in the United States in generations, according to preliminary figures released today. There were at least 41,880 cases yeast year. Of those infected, eighteen died, including fifteen infants younger than one year. The last time numbers were this bad was in 1955. Considering that a record–breaking outbreak had been ongoing for much of the year, this year’s figures are not a surprise and very foreseeable.

The report mentions that this is in part due to cycles in incidence, as well as the fact that protection from the newer vaccine lasts for a shorter period of time. However, the report doesn’t mention something else that is likely responsible for the increase in the number of cases: the increasing number of people refusing vaccinations (especially for their kids, as children are most likely to suffer and die from the disease). The states with the easiest opt–out provisions have the most cases. And considering that whooping cough kills kids, anti–vaccination is one deadly denialism.

So, anti–vaxxers, how many kids will you kill this year?

A study all anti–vaxxers should read, but that I know they won’t

Lindsay is currently doing a series of posts on the recent autism hearings in the US Congress. As you might expect from a hearing conducted by anti–science wingnuts, it quickly (as in opening statements) reached the completely discredited and absolutely refuted claim that vaccines (especially the MMR [measles–mumps–rubella]) cause autism.

I’m not going to re–debunk the claim that vaccines cause autism; others have already done that. And I don’t have much to add to what Lindsay is and will be saying. I’ll instead just draw your attention to this study. (Congenital rubella syndrome and autism spectrum disorder prevented by rubella vaccination – United States, 2001-2010, authored by Berger, Navar-Boggan, and Omer) Although not particularly recent,it is still important to read. Quoting the freely–licensed abstract (my emphasis):

Background
Congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) is associated with several negative outcomes, including autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). The objective of this study was to estimate the numbers of CRS and ASD cases prevented by rubella vaccination in the United States from 2001 through 2010.

Methods
Prevention estimates were calculated through simple mathematical modeling, with values of model parameters determined from published literature. Model parameters included pre-vaccine era CRS incidence, vaccine era CRS incidence, the number of live births per year, and the percentage of CRS cases presenting with an ASD.

Results
Based on our estimates, 16,600 CRS cases (range: 8300-62,250) were prevented by rubella vaccination from 2001 through 2010 in the United States. An estimated 1228 ASD cases were prevented by rubella vaccination in the United States during this time period. Simulating a slight expansion in ASD diagnostic criteria in recent decades, we estimate that a minimum of 830 ASD cases and a maximum of 6225 ASD cases were prevented.

Conclusions
We estimate that rubella vaccination prevented substantial numbers of CRS and ASD cases in the United States from 2001 through 2010. These findings provide additional incentive to maintain high measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccination coverage.

And another irony meter bites the dust. Far from causing autism, the MMR vaccine actually prevents it.

These people should know better

In today’s paper, I read this story. The actions of some people in it are absolutely mind–blowing and very much a threat to public health:

The B.C. government has temporarily backed away from a controversial plan to force thousands of provincial health workers to get a flu shot before they can work with patients.

Health care is the exact sort of industry where flu shots should be mandatory. The only way out should be a medical exemption, none of this personal choice bullshit. You would think that nurses and other health care workers would know better than to fall for anti–vaxxer bullshit. This is how we get (as reported in the article) more than half of all health care workers not getting a flu shot. But few things surprise me anymore.

And the position of the head of the Health Sciences Association (a union) is dangerous:

“[Members of the HSA (who are health care workers)] are entitled to that choice [to have a flu shot or not because they should make their own health care decisions] and they’re entitled to the privacy of that choice. Under this new policy people had to be identified as having had the shot, in fact the employer was publishing a list of people who had the flu shot. We just said that was a violation of people’s privacy.”

I agree that people have a right to privacy. But what you don’t have is the right to give the flu to someone who might die from it.

So much for the promiscuity shot

Remember how wingnuts and conservatives objected to the HPV vaccine because they thought it might cause promiscuity? Well, a new study (hat tip: Feministing) shows that this is not the case:

Since public health officials began recommending in 2006 that young women be routinely vaccinated against HPV, many parents have hesitated over fears that doing so might give their children license to have sex. But research published on Monday in the journal Pediatrics may help ease those fears.

Looking at a sample of nearly 1,400 girls, the researchers found no evidence that those who were vaccinated beginning around age 11 went on to engage in more sexual activity than girls who were not vaccinated.

This was obvious from the start. But I know that anti–choicers won’t stop their freaking out and sexophobia.

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