Citing 'indisputable' science, in an interview President Obama urged parents to get their children vaccinated. However, potential presidential hopeful and current NJ governor Chris Christie, is less adamant than the president. In an interview in the UK, Christie said the government must “balance” public health interests with parental choice. This may be a beginning of polarization of vaccines among partisan lines in the US. Previous research has shown that Democrats and Republicans are equally likely to believe that childhood vaccines are risky.
A Facebook post reads, "I got a Pox Package in mail just moments ago. I have two lollipops and a wet rag and spit." Pox parties not in your town? "non-vaccinating parents who despair of finding a way to infect their children with chicken pox (intended to create natural immunity) are joining Facebook groups to acquire the virus through the mail." The science based community reacts.
Seth Mnookin courageously fought heroin addiction and re-launched himself as a well-regarded writer. His new book The Panic Virus raised several questions about the science behind claims that vaccinations contribute to autism, and that the consequences of doing so resulted in the reemergence of formerly eradicated diseases such as measles and whooping cough. In that light, he recently criticized a new PBS Series which, despite strong scientific evidence to the contrary, again suggests the vaccination-autism connection. This led to a classless attack on Mnookin's former struggles with addiction. His pained response.
Dr Andrew Wakefield's 1998 Lancet study caused vaccination rates to plummet, resulting in a rise in measles - but the findings were later discredited. The General Medical Council ruled he had acted "dishonestly and irresponsibly" in doing his research.[more inside]
Wired profiles pediatrician Paul Offit, co-creator of the RotaTeq rotavirus vaccine and a primary target of the anti-vaccination movement. Dr. Offit published a book,“Autism’s False Prophets” in 2008 but didn't tour, because he had received too many death threats. [more inside]
Taiwan ignores drug patent - To save its people from a dangerous flu, Taiwan is synthesizing a vaccine without permission. This bears a striking resemblance to a classic moral dilemma of Kohlberg's stages of moral development. Kohlberg's theory is not without criticism, including gender bias, Western-centric thinking, and external validity. Simply knowing a person's decision doesn't tell you about their stage of development; you have to know the reasoning behind it, which is hard to come by in real world situations. Conversely, knowing a person's stage of moral development (even harder to come by in the real world) does not reliably predict their decision (moreso at the higher levels). Nor does Kohlberg's theory scale to what choices societies themselves make. Decision Making is a booming field of research, but how much research is being done on morality and group decision making? Not much. (initial article via /.)
The Real Biothreat Currently the United States is experiencing shortages of eight of the eleven vaccines required by law for children. In response, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have revised their immunization schedule from "optimal" to "some protection," which means that, depending on the vaccine, kids may get the first shot and not the boosters that solidify immunity, or they may not get the first shot at all until several months past the recommended age...