My Letter to Sneak Preview regarding those who criticized the screening of Vaxxed- It’s not censorship. It’s not trivial.

7/2016

My letter to the Editor of a local community paper, The Sneak Preview  (links will be added soon)

Vaccines are Important to Society

Matt Hegarty’s News Brief, “Is there a Censorship Vaccination?,” undeservedly chastised those critical of the screening of Vaxxed in Ashland as “resorting to censorship.” A theater is entitled to choose to screen a film – or not – and critics are entitled to express their indignation. That’s not censorship; that’s how freedom of speech works (although I understand it can press buttons and backfire).

And I disagree that Vaxxed  critics are making “much ado about nothing” as mostly only anti-vaccinationists would see it anyway. It’s natural for any parent to feel worried about injecting their healthy children with medicinals. An emotive, deceptive propaganda film promoted as a fact-based documentary purportedly exposing vaccine safety system corruption may hook even fully vaccinating parents, as well as new parents and those on the fence about vaccines.

Vaccine fear has a way of going viral and persevering. Wakefield (the film’s director) is notorious for instigating years of devastating disease outbreaks in the UK and beyond after his 1998 “study” suggested an MMR vaccine-autism link, causing unnecessary suffering, hospitalizations, disabilities, deaths, and expense.

Despite Wakefield’s losing his medical license in 2010 based on more than two dozen counts proving misconduct and ethics violations (including child abuse), and despite  Lancet retracting his study for falsifications, and despite twenty-plus years of solid research leading to a worldwide scientific consensus that vaccinations are not linked to autism, still, 33% of parents of minors and 29% of adults overall believe vaccines can cause autism (per a recent survey).

Even before Vaxxed, Ashland’s clustering of vaccination refusals and delays were straining community-immunity. Not just the children of the refusers/delayers are at risk when that happens but also those with medical contraindications to vaccines, too young or not yet fully vaccinated, missing vaccinations for other reasons, elderly, immune-deficient, and a percentage of vaccinated people (no vaccination is completely protective).

Many of those accused of “resorting to censorship” and making “much ado about nothing” over the screening of Vaxxed will be on the front lines of these outbreaks trying to contain them, treat patients, and save lives.

Sincerly,
Lorie Anderson, Ashland.

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124 studies showing a link between vaccines and autism! But are they credible?

I decided to share here my reply to someone promoting the movie Vaxxed in the comments section of my local paper’s opinion page where Jackson County Public Health Medical Director Dr. Jim Shames published a piece.  [Read Dr. Jim Shames’ opinion piece.]

The Vaxxed defender posted:

“Regardless of what you believe about Andrew Wakefield, there are many studies suggesting a link between vaccines and autism. Here are 124 research papers: https://www.scribd.com/doc/220807175/124-Research-Papers-Supporting-the-Vaccine-Autism-Link

My reply:

“Sure, but one thing I learned is that anyone can cherry-pick study abstracts to make a list of those that appear to support their point of view. The key to getting close to the actual facts of a matter, whatever it is, is to look to those experts who know how to carefully review all the studies for their quality and strength and who then synthesize that info to come to a conclusion — whether it is that we need more studies on the matter or that the weight of the evidence is strong enough to come to a reasonable conclusion, etc.. And then they review their conclusions as further studies are conducted. Good science evolves and builds upon the past. The IOM, for one, does that kind of analysis and they found no link between vaccines and autism.

I know the very first study on the list you linked to was just a preliminary CDC study, a part 1 of a series of investigations, and their conclusion changed with stronger subsequent research. I think all research needs to be labeled for its strength. Thanks for reading.”

Now I’ll add some CREDIBLE sources here:

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My (extended) response to commenters who insist our public health medical director should have watched Vaxxed before publishing his opinion piece

Our county’s esteemed public health medical director, Dr. Jim Shames, published his opinion, endorsed by many other local medical professionals, in two local news outlets expressing that our Varsity Theater is acting irresponsibly for screening the film “Vaxxed-from Coverup to Catastrophe.” [Read Dr. Jim Shames’ opinion piece here, or here.]

Many commenters insisted Dr. Shames (and other critics of the film) should have watched the film before criticizing it. I totally disagree, as the film-makers (Hooker and Wakefield, in particular) have long been exposed as self-serving purveyors of MMR vaccine misinformation (putting it nicely).

For one, it is well known that these film-makers want us to believe that CDC scientist William Thompson confessed a cover-up to Brian Hooker of certain findings of a 2004 study conducted by Thompson himself (et al.). The study purportedly showed a significant link between the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine and autism among African American boys. And they claimed to have found a higher risk of “isolated autism” among MMR vaccinated children in that same 2004 study.

Hooker and Wakefield had already released several videos leading up to Vaxxed. One 2014 video was designed to frighten African American parents by invoking the horrors of the Tuskegee experiments. I find this tactic egregious!

To put this study in context, this now 12-year-old study was a relatively minor one, never intended to discover a causal relationship, and is dwarfed by an abundance of  solid evidence, including independent, international studies, showing no MMR-autism link (or any vaccines-autism link for that matter), including a much more recent and very large 2015 study.  

Hooker conducted his own “study” re-analyzing the 2004 CDC data (readily provided by the CDC for the asking; so much for a devious CDC trying to hide something), claiming to find an alarmingly high risk for African American boys.

But Hooker’s study was soon retracted by the publisher over undisclosed conflicts of interest and methodology concerns to where “the Editors no longer have confidence in the soundness of the findings.” And knowledgeable experts soon revealed how the study was botched, if not purposely misleading. (Also, see here.)

It is baffling that William Thompson would approach Brian Hooker at all instead of going through established channels to resolve his issues. Maybe someday he will explain himself.  Word on the web now from Hooker himself is that he found out:

Thompson will soon publish a paper asserting that “the MMR vaccine is NOT LINKED TO AUTISM in African American males…” (caps and bold mine)

Hooker is framing this as a sell-out by Thompson. Or did the guy realize he contributed to Hooker’s and Wakefield’s dangerous MMR scare-mongering and wants to set the record straight about MMR safety?

Regardless, as of yet, there is no evidence of any kind of a cover-up by the CDC researchers  of an increased risk of autism among African American boys nor among children with “isolated autism.” due to the MMR vaccination. And it’s highly suspicious whether Thompson even actually told Hooker they had found a meaningful association between the MMR vaccine and autism that was covered up.

As for Wakefield’s credibility, why would anyone who knows Wakefield’s history trust anything he says? He lost his medical license in 2010 for dishonest and unethical activities surrounding his 1998 MMR-autism-bowel study after persistent investigation by UK journalist Brian Deer and a record three-year-long GMC investigation.

Among many examples of his misconduct and dishonesty, Wakefield was planning to market his own single measles vaccine, standing to gain a fortune by discrediting the combined MMR vaccine. (Single measles vaccine are no longer produced in the US, and there is no credible evidence of any benefit.)

And he secretly was paid exorbitant sums by a law firm, using public funds, to drum up scientific evidence for a “new syndrome” — an MMR-bowel-autism link — as the firm represented plaintiffs in a large planned lawsuit alleging the MMR caused their children to become autistic.

The autistic children in his study weren’t random local hospital patients with bowel problems and autism, as Wakefield claimed. They were mostly (or all?)  children referred by the lawfirm to participate in the study.

Autistic children experienced medically unnecessary, painful, invasive medical procedures for Wakefield’s fraudulent study. One child became disabled after nearly dying from multiple perforations during a medically unnecessary colonoscopy.  It appears this case was not part of Wakefield’s own study but performed for similar investigation of the dubious MMR-autism-bowel link promoted by Wakefield, conducted at the same hospital.)

The Lancet fully retracted Wakefield’s (et al.) study in 2010, finally, but not before Wakefield’s  fear-mongering since 1998 through the media (and now his videos and the film Vaxxed) led to outbreaks of measles in locations where vaccinations had eliminated the disease, or nearly so.  Vaccine preventable disease outbreaks lead to unnecessary suffering, hospitalizations, disabilities, complications like pneumonia and encephalitis and meningitis, miscarriages, deaths, lower herd/community immunity, not to mention the monetary costs involved.

This film is not just about “safe vaccines,” as they would have the public believe. (Not much is 100% harmless or risk-free, if you think about it, including vaccines.) Eroding confidence in the integrity of the CDC and other entities responsible for safe vaccines leads to greater parent anxiety and vaccine refusal overall. Delaying vaccinations adds to outbreak risks. Risks of rubella and mumps outbreaks increase too when MMR rates decline.

So no, long story long, Dr. Shames and anyone else knowledgeable of the background and agenda of these film-makers should not have to torture themselves by watching the film before warning theaters not to promote this dangerously misleading propaganda film.

(Note: Minor updates made since originally posted.)

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John Oliver slams science communication (and not just the media)

THANK YOU JOHN OLIVER! (see video below)

Looking at the PREPONDERANCE of the BEST evidence, at the consensus of experts’ conclusions (which in my layperson’s case means looking at what the experts who do this kind of analysis are saying) is how I came to believe the following: human-caused climate change is a real thing; vaccines do not cause autism and are far far more beneficial than risky; glyphosate (“Round Up”) is one of the safest herbicides around even when compared to “natural” ones; gluten is not something most need to worry about (except for those with Celiacs; then avoid, for sure); MSG is just fine if not preferable (for most); GMO products are as safe to use/eat as non-GMO and can offer incredible advantages (think rennet in cheese and insulin, to start); homeopathy is a total scam on the public; products using radio waves/microwaves, as regulated, are not harmful; long-term antibiotics and/or “alternative” treatments for so-called “Chronic Lyme Disease are dubious at best,” and “Lyme Literate” doctors are anything but;  and on and on.

Of course, solid evidence could change any of these views. After all, that is the point of scientific discovery — to get closer and closer to the truth of the matter.

 

 

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Chronic Lyme Disease – Another Negative Study, article by Dr. Novella

Interested in so-called “Chronic Lyme Disease?” I recommend reading Dr. Steven Novella’s April 6, 2016, post on Science Based Medicine blog called Chronic Lyme Disease – Another Negative Study. Here’s the first paragraph:

While Lyme disease itself is a real and often serious infectious illness, the existence and proper treatment of so-called chronic Lyme disease is dubious, and some would say controversial. However, like many controversies we cover, the science itself is not very controversial, but the topic is made so by a persistent minority of outliers who refuse to accept the scientific consensus.

 

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Critique of Medford Tribune “news” article on Lyme Disease

I recently read an article on the Medford Mail Tribune website (serving the readership of my community, Ashland, OR), “Lyme Warriors Fight Back,” that compels me to share my reaction.

Raising awareness of Lyme disease is important, especially the need for prevention of tick bites and for early treatment. But while my heart goes out to people suffering with crippling symptoms that aren’t easily explained or treatable by the medical establishment, I found this Tribune article (and other similar ones I discovered later) to be so one-sided and lacking in scrutiny and investigation that I fear it is potentially harmful to the public.

I got the impression that the reporter may not realize that there is a big difference between what is understood about “Lyme disease” (LD) by  mainstream experts and what is often referred to as “CHRONIC Lyme Disease” (CLD).

“Lyme disease” is a diagnostic term, widely recognized by the scientific and medical community, that describes a multi-stage, tick-borne illness. It is usually successfully treated with about 2-4 weeks of oral antibiotics if caught early, weeks longer and sometimes intravenously if late stage.  The CDC and other expert organizations say the disease can result in some serious long-lasting symptoms and damage with inadequate or delayed antibiotic treatment (usually resolving within months, once treated) and that “Post Treatment Lyme Diseases Syndrome” is NOT likely caused by hidden remaining active infection.

On the other hand, the concept of “CHRONIC Lyme disease” is generally regarded by mainstream experts and organizations as largely speculative and scientifically unsupported. Proponents purport that a very wide variety (hundreds!) of relentless and reoccurring, usually nonspecific symptoms (E.G. chronic fatigue, severe headaches, muscle and joint pain/disability, cognitive deficits, jerking, numbness, paralysis, etc.) are caused by hidden, persistent, active tick-borne infections and co-infections.

They say these infections cannot always be detected by current FDA approved/cleared laboratory tests, so they turn to unapproved/uncleared specialty labs. The reporter mentions someone awaiting results of an 18-week culture test but without exploring the controversy surrounding culture tests; the CDC and FDA issued a warning.

Advocates insist that CLD requires large, extended doses of antibiotics — sometimes for many years, often intravenously. The reporter mentions only in passing that the use of prolonged antibiotics is “controversial” for LD as the risks may outweigh the harm; she then quickly dismisses the risks with a parent’s testimonial that it relieved 85% of her son’s symptom. Testimonials are not evidence of effectiveness or safety.

She neglected to report that several quality scientific studies found no benefit of extended antibiotic use for this condition when compared to a placebo, while it increases serious adverse effects and raises concerns of antibiotic resistance due to overuse.

But what about the recommended treatments for CLD symptoms, besides the highly controversial antibiotic use? Unfortunately, desperation for a clear diagnosis and relief from debilitating symptoms has (as with many other poorly understood or hard to treat conditions) opened the door to a myriad of unsubstantiated, non FDA approved/cleared diagnostic tests and non evidence-based (“alternative”) treatments.

The reporter mentions a German clinic that alleges a 99% treatment success rate treating LD (I’m sure she meant CLD). Really? That’s incredible! (by which I mean: not very credible). Did the reporter attempt to discover the validity of this clinic’s diagnostic methods and the safety/efficacy of their treatments, clinical trials published in peer-reviewed journals? Any data at all?  A website? How about a name?

A commenter gave the location and some Google searching revealed the likely clinic and other popular German Lyme clinics. I feel confident saying they are by no means offering advanced evidence-based methods that the US just hasn’t yet recognized or approved  due to our experts’ lack of Lyme literacy, as the article makes it sound.

In fact, I see some very questionable, unscientific (“alternative”) diagnostic and treatment practices for Lyme disease: Biophoton device therapy, “Biotensor,” (a dowsing/divining contraption that made me laugh hearing about it), oxygen/ozone therapy, hyperthermia therapy, homeopathy, high dose vitamin C infusion, chelation, and on and on.

The article reinforces the belief that mainstream infectious disease experts and doctors, or anyone who disagrees with the CLD notion, are closed-minded or just plain ignorant — not “Lyme literate.” Wow, I find that very insulting to all the caring and bright experts and medical doctors who are quite literate about Lyme disease but perhaps don’t buy into the unsubstantiated CLD notion and don’t want to misdirect their patients.

I hope the Medford Mail Tribune will publish evidence-based articles on Lyme disease soon and stop promoting the dubious CLD movement as if it is more knowledgeable and cutting edge. This is especially important considering that it’s diagnostics and treatments often involves children, huge expense, and collecting donations.

Here are just a few links to learn about the issue and controversy:

SkepticalRaptor blog – “CHRONIC LYME DISEASE MYTH – REVIEWING THE EVIDENCE”

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) – Chronic Lyme Disease

Medscape – New CDC/FDA Warning Against Unapproved Lyme Culture Test”

CDC – Notice to Readers: Caution Regarding Testing for Lyme Disease

CDC – Concerns Regarding a New Culture Method for Borrelia burgdorferi Not Approved for the Diagnosis of Lyme Disease

The Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) –  Videos about Lyme and Chronic Lyme

CDC – Post-Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome

The Daily Beast – “Predator Doctors Take Advantage of Patients With ‘Chronic Lyme’ Scam

Science Based Medicine – “Does Everybody Have Chronic Lyme Disease? Does Anyone?”

Science Based Medicine – “Lemons and Lyme: Bogus tests and dangerous treatments of the Lyme-literati”

Quackwatch – “Lyme Disease: Questionable Diagnosis and Treatment”

 

 

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A superb deconstruction of the CDC “whistleblower” claims. Thank you Harpocrates Speaks!

First, allow me to attempt to introduce the situation in a nutshell for those who may not have heard: It all started when William Thompson, a long-time scientist working for the CDC, decided in 2014 to confess a purported cover-up of an initial finding of a 2004 MMR-autism study that he co-authored: A supposed significant correlation between MMR vaccination and autism among African American (AA) boys who received the vaccination before 36 months old.

Rather than pursuing legitimate avenues to “blow the whistle,” Thompson oddly decided to confess his purported secret and guilt to a rabidly anti-vaccine father of an autistic child, Brian Hooker, who is also a plaintiff in an active Vaccine Court case.

Hooker then shared hidden recordings (Thompson wasn’t aware he was being recorded) with the discredited Andrew Wakefield (who had been struck-off the UK’s medical register for misconduct).

Wakefield then published an irresponsible, fear-mongering video to the Internet. Anti-vaccine websites had a field day; mainstream media mostly ignored it — maybe because it sounds fishy and the media were previously chastised for having believed and spread Wakefield’s own claims of finding an MMR-autism link, later totally discredited thanks to extensive investigation by journalist Brian Deer.

In 2014, Hooker conducted a poorly designed study using the same CDC data as was used in the 2004 CDC study (so much for the accusation that the CDC destroyed data), soon retracted by the publisher. He claimed to have found a very strong association between MMR vaccination and autism among African American boys vaccinated between 24 and 31 months old.

Interesting is that, even with this mess he called a scientific study, he did not find any autism link among AA boys who received the vaccine earlier than 24 months old, as CDC guidelines recommend, nor after 31 months old, nor among AA girls or children of any other ethnicity regardless of when they received the vaccination. But he and others accusing the CDC of a cover up tend to neglect to highlight or even mention this part — except when attempting to specifically alarm the African American community.

One of my favorite skeptic/rational sites has been analyzing, speculating, and exposing the facts of the situation in great detail as events unfold: Science Based Medicine.

And I want to recommend another webpage I recently visited, providing a rational, thorough and yet concise, up-to-date FAQ on the matter, “MMR, the CDC and Brian Hooker: A Guide for Parents and the Media” by Harpocrates Speaks. This is the conclusion on that Harpocrates Speaks page, for those who just want to cut to the chase:

The Bottom Line
Despite much noise being made by the small, yet incredibly vocal, anti-vaccine community, there is no evidence of fraud on the part of the CDC, nor is there convincing evidence of any cover-up. Brian S. Hooker’s study contains a number of flaws leading to a spurious, and biologically implausible, conclusion. In fact, the quality of the study is such that the journal that published it withdrew it pending further investigation, citing serious concerns about the validity and potential conflicts of interest. This entire issue is, in reality, much ado about nothing. It is just another example of anti-vaccine activists doing bad science to put your children at greater risk of harm, all because they cannot accept their own children as they are.

The CDC published a statement in December 2015 about the 2004 study in question, in response to the manufactured controversy, entitled: CDC Statement Regarding 2004 Pediatrics Article, “Age at First Measles-Mumps-Rubella Vaccination in Children With Autism and School-matched Control Subjects: A Population-Based Study in Metropolitan Atlanta”. They point out, among other things:

The study looked at different age groups: children vaccinated by 18 months, 24 months, and 36 months. The findings revealed that vaccination between 24 and 36 months was slightly more common among children with autism, and that association was strongest among children 3-5 years of age. The authors reported this finding was most likely a result of immunization requirements for preschool special education program attendance in children with autism.

(This page last updated 4/25/2016.)

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My Daily Tidings 2012 “Get the Shot…or Not” essay.

I decided to post this 2012 essay that I wrote for Ashland’s local paper, The Daily Tidings, that I previously had only linked to. Now, 2015, we see a sizable outbreak of chickenpox, but more concerning (because it’s a more serious disease), measles and whooping cough (pertussis) are making a come-back in the US, while Ashland is seriously under-immunized to protect the community from an outbreak.

An “Acts Matter” essay for the Tidings

“GET THE SHOT…OR NOT”

By Lorie Anderson

I heard vaccine opposers insisting vaccines don’t work, aren’t necessary, cause untold injuries and deaths, that unvaccinated kids are healthier, refusers more intelligent, natural alternatives available and herd immunity a lie.

Embarking on a personal quest about a decade ago to sort fact from fiction, I learned the importance of seeking science-based sources and of honing my “baloney detection” abilities.

After studying the vaccine debate, I came to this conclusion: Not much is 100 percent safe or effective, but the most credible sources reveal vaccine benefits far outweigh their rare serious risks, saving lives and reducing suffering.

Governmental, independent and research organizations worldwide are committed to maximizing vaccine safety and effectiveness. Meanwhile, anti-vaccine assertions are often fallacious, scientifically unsupported and misleading — yet compelling enough to result in destructive outbreaks and derailment of disease eradication efforts.

I first encountered anti-vaccine sentiment in Ashland when my now teenage son was a baby. A dad announced: “I won’t poison my daughter’s pristine system with vaccines!” My reflexive response: “Fine, our vaccinated children will protect yours.” I received a disturbing introduction to “herd immunity” relaying this story to our pediatrician: “You’re not protecting his child as much as his child is putting yours at risk,” she said.

Maximum protection depends upon the community. Vaccination neglect, refusal and delay threaten our community’s well-being, and while I empathize with parents’ fears and concerns, it’s hard to contain resentment for authority figures who twist facts and spread misinformation.

Lorie Anderson has lived in Ashland since 1976. She and her husband, Curt, have a daughter, 30, and son, 14. She is a former social work counselor and appeared on Frontline “The Vaccine War” on PBS in 2010.

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Cringe-worthy KTVL Channel 10 report about chicken pox vaccine

Rant Alert!

On January 15, 2015, KTVL, a local TV station serving our region, where we are currently experiencing a chicken pox/varicella outbreak and where public health officials are working diligently to promote the vaccine, started to get it right by interviewing La Clinica staff, but then blew it! They brought in a homeopath to weigh in with faint praise of the chicken pox vaccine, along with misinformation about alternative treatments for chicken pox and other viruses.

He said about the chicken pox vaccine (emphasis his): It “TENDS to be, in general, fairly efficacious and it also TENDS to be one of the lesser problematic vaccines…” “So I’m more inclined to recommend that vaccine over some of the other vaccines on the [CDC recommended] vaccine schedule” — clearly implying that many of the other recommended vaccinations are even less effective and safe.

I don’t see any credible science-based organizations suggesting that herbs, high dose vitamins, or especially homeopathy could offer effective treatments for VPDs (vaccine preventable diseases). It is harmful to promote dubious treatments in lieu of preventive vaccines, which have been shown to work and to be safe. (Of course vaccines are not 100% effective or risk-free. Not much is, if anything.)

Currently, Ashland’s immunization rates are too low to expect herd/community immunity to effectively shield the community from VPD outbreaks. Chicken pox and whooping cough outbreaks have occurred in the county. And with measles outbreaks gaining momentum around the country after Disney’s California theme park visitors were exposed to the illness, and given that measles is a more serious disease than chicken pox (which is serious enough!), it is egregious to me that KTVL decided to spread doubts about the need  for and the efficacy and safety of the CDC’s well tested, approved, regulated, recommended vaccinations.

Here’s the admittedly snarky response I just wrote on KTVL’s Facebook page:

“Whoa, KTVL, way to illustrate a cringe-worthy level of false equivalency in journalism by bringing in a homeopath to weigh in on a vaccine issue. You diluted the public health message by bringing in the homeopath. Since when are homeopaths experts on this topic?! If you were trying to bring “balance” to your reporting, you would have given a 300C homeopathic dose of coverage (meaning none) to a homeopath’s opinion and all your coverage to the nearly complete consensus among the actual experts worldwide who favor vaccine safety and efficacy. i hope you don’t do this again!”

More links:

A great article from Sciencebasedmedicine.org  about false equivalency in the media.

The KTVL broadcast on Facebook: “New developements in the chickenpox outbreak News10 has been following in Ashland.”

Concise article on the nonsense of homeopathy. (I warned my readers in my intro, don’t even get me started on homeopathy! You can blame KTVL for provoking me 🙂

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Article features Ashland’s high vaccine-refusal rate: “A Tale of Vaccination in Two Cities”

I was quoted in an excellent article, “A Tale of Vaccination in Two Cities” by journalist Elaine Meyer, featuring Ashland, Oregon.  The article was written for the 2×2 Project website, sponsored by Columbia University’s Department of Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health.  They aim to “inform the health conversation through timely and effective communication of emerging public health science” in terms understandable to the general public.

Ms. Meyer compares Ashland’s and Houston’s very different reasons for low immunization rates.  Houston’s challenge largely entails awareness of and access to affordable immunizations.

Ashland’s reasons for low-immunization are, for the most part, much more complex, as they involve personal beliefs and cultural memes.  For example: (expanding a bit on the article) many vaccine-refusers generally distrust industry and government, and by extension, their vaccine safety and efficacy findings.   Some believe vaccine risks are much greater than their benefits and that non-vaccinated children (or selectively vaccinated, or those with delayed vaccinations) are generally healthier than vaccinated children. 

Some maintain that acquiring these diseases provides superior immunity to them (which is often the case, but at the risk of serious morbidity and mortality).  Some maintain that breastfeeding, eating organic foods, or using herbs and homeopathy provides sufficient protection for children against some or all of the diseases for which there are vaccines.

Although still a minority viewpoint in the US, including in Ashland, I can see how these wrong-headed ideas are reinforced and spread in an echo chamber of like-minded individuals and health professionals.  

You can find the article and comment on it at:  http://the2x2project.org/a-tale-of-child-vaccination-in-two-cities/

(Just to clarify my quote, I don’t think I was some kind of genius kindergartener who literally thought the words, “I am a pioneer,” but I certainly picked up that I was doing something new and important that everyone, it seemed, had only dreamt possible — a vaccine to prevent horrific polio.)

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