Between you and me, I have spent (wasted?) hours (possibly amounting to days) in the last couple weeks reading (fuming) over every single vaccine-related post on my facebook feed, then checking in compulsively to sift through all the comments. Every now and then–I wish I could pin point what makes me do it–I can’t help it, and I engage. I try to be respectful; I hope I’m successful. There have literally been studies showing that I won’t change anyone’s mind, so the least I can do is try not to alienate anyone.
I recently finished Dr. Paul Offit‘s Vaccinated: One Man’s Quest to Defeat the World’s Deadliest Diseases. I think it should be required reading for any physician who will treat children. It’s a great read, describing the fascinating history of many modern vaccines, including the recent conflicts regarding their supposed risks. At this moment, I’m thinking of Offit’s description of parents, when the mumps vaccine was in development, coming out in throngs to sign their kids up for the trials.
I don’t have anything pithy to add to the discussion. (But if you have any questions or concerns about the safety of thimerosal, thanks to Dr. Offit, I feel adequately prepared to at least begin to address them.) I wanted to link my most recent favorites in the commentaries:
The succinct prose of Dr. Sanjay Gupta (I’ll admit it–and I don’t think I’m alone here–but he’s kind of a celebrity crush of mine; right up there with Dr. James Hamlin): “The anti-vaccination argument is often snugly wrapped in the “I love my kids” sentiment. And, I find it, well, a little insulting. To suggest that anyone who vaccinates their kids doesn’t love them is a whole new level of lunacy. But here is the fact of the matter, for me. It’s not just because I love my kids that I vaccinated them — it’s because I love your kids as well.”
This opinion piece by Professor Art Caplan: “That is why medical speech is subject to scrutiny by a doctor’s peers and can be curtailed by state licensing boards. My home state of New York, for instance, warns doctors that they may not use speech that is ‘false, fraudulent, deceptive, misleading’ or relies on the use of ‘testimonials.’ Violations may be punished by revoking a medical license. Those whose misinformation leads to harm can be charged by a patient, doctor or other health-care professional; investigated by the medical board; and found guilty by a hearing panel composed of doctors and a member of the public. I have testified in many court and licensing hearings about physicians who abjure the standard of care for their own pet theories. Many of them are now ex-doctors. The vaccine crisis has introduced several worthy candidates — proponents of distrust and dishonesty — for dismissal from the ranks of doctors, and the rules in their states provide the mechanism.”
I wonder how Hamblin would handle a segment on vaccines…