Our lives today have become politicized by many issues, including vaccination. Research shows that Republicans largely ally with the anti-vax stance, following the example of their national leader, while Democrats lined up to take the jab.  Does it matter whether you resist vaccination because of “the (false) science” or “the politics?” The answer is yes. Let’s focus on the politically averse, 60% of the anti-vax population.
Mandating vaccination isn’t the greatest governmental policy. Catherine the Great knew that back in 1768 – more than two hundred and fifty years ago. Maybe politicians should look to history for ideas on what works when influencing population behavior. Perhaps they should also eschew involving themselves in scientific matters where they are ignorant.
Is it too early to address what went wrong when the COVID vaccines were rolled out? This is not about the “first rough draft of history." Instead, it's a more dispassionate, high-altitude view that allows us to assess this public health moment through two different critical theory lenses: complex systems and scaling.
Last week Governor de Santis of Florida threatened to withhold funding (and salaries) from local superintendents and school board members who disregarded his executive order, effectively prohibiting mask mandates in local school districts. The order came in the face of the Fort Lauderdale-Broward County’s school district vote to require masks. The President immediately interceded -- promising federal funds to cover local salaries. Some days later, the Governor seems to have backtracked. But conflict between local, state, and federal powers to regulate pandemic conduct has rooted and is spreading. Interestingly, this is nothing new. Pandemics invite politics, often including scientifically apathetic politicians. Exactly 129 years ago, it happened like this:
In 1938 the FDA was given regulatory authority over experimental drugs. But it wasn't until 1961 that it regulated clinical trials and their methods. In 1954, a foundation performed a methodologically controversial trial with 1.6 million children, ages 6 to 8. It was called the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis's Salk Vaccine Trial. As we hurdle at "warp speed" to a COVID-19 vaccine, perhaps we can reflect on how much has changed, or not, in our search for safe, effective vaccines.
Early on in the pandemic, the call was to flatten the curve, in order to reduce the number of cases and not overwhelm our healthcare systems. Over time, some say that has morphed into an attempt to eliminate or suppress the viral spread. A new study looks at the tradeoff.
COVID-19 is bad enough, so the last thing we need is to add other dangerous infectious diseases in the mix. Yet, that is precisely what will happen if the trend of lower vaccination rates continues. Here's the take of Dr. Jeff Singer (pictured) on the secondary public health crisis now in the works.
Seattle is usually the poster child for the consequences of bad policies. But on vaccination, this northwestern city finally got one right.
Influenza, commonly known as the flu, is more than a bad cold. Seasonal outbreaks cause not only tremendous misery but huge numbers of hospital admissions and fatalities. Although the "holy grail" – a universal flu vaccine that recognizes all strains, including newly-arising ones – is not yet available, this does not mean that you should not get the seasonal vaccine. You should, and soon.
Some parents are reluctant vaccinators. That's because of the sheer number of immunizations recommended for their infant in the first year of life. Anti-vaxxers have broadened that argument, suggesting and that there's no scientific basis for the schedules. Now, it's more complicated than their alarmist memes, but why let facts get in the way of a viral meme, right? Spoiler alert: the anti-vaxxers are wrong.
Since our founding in 1978, ACSH has stood for evidence-based science and health in combination with free markets and individual liberty. We feel that an educated public should be free to make its own decisions without a "nanny state" micromanaging our behavior. Occasionally, however, our guiding principles encounter intractable problems. Today, two of the biggest such problems involve public health.
Some science positions are so well-supported by data that every literate adult should embrace them. For those who reject facts, an appeal to emotion with funny pictures and clever text can sometimes work to persuade. So, let's celebrate some of our favorite pro-vaccine memes. In the science wars, some positions are so well-supported by mountains of data ("vaccines are safe and effective"), that every literate adult should embrace them. Alas, they do not. For people who reject facts, an appeal to emotion might work. Hence, the meme. It's simply a matter of reality that memes with funny pictures and clever text go viral, while the latest research paper from the Journal of the American Medical Association does not. So, let's celebrate pro-vaccine memes.