Author Topic: Is the danger of the anti-vax movement overhyped?  (Read 669 times)

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Online fuzzyMarmot

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Is the danger of the anti-vax movement overhyped?
« on: February 16, 2019, 03:27:58 AM »
Daniel Engber wrote an interesting article on why the focus on combatting anti-vaxxers is misplaced:
https://slate.com/technology/2019/02/measles-outbreak-clark-county-overblown.html

Here is how he ends the piece:

"I suspect the climate of opprobrium isn’t really prophylactic; rather, it’s just another way to slake an endless thirst for outrage. Anti-vaxxers are all so dumb and wrong and misinformed and selfish! Fake news has ruined everything! No one trusts their doctors anymore! Gah, it feels good.

Maybe we love to hate the anti-vaxxers because they offer us distraction. Instead of mulling over fundamental flaws in U.S. health care, we rail against the wealthy nincompoops who send their kids to Waldorf schools. That’s all a bit beside the point. Last fall, national outlets reported that, according to the CDC, the percentage of babies and toddlers who had not received any vaccines at all quadrupled since 2001. The government’s report was clear about the source of this alarming stat: Vaccine coverage remained “stable and high” among U.S. children on the whole, it said, but there were signs of special vulnerability among those in rural areas and without private health insurance. If vaccination rates were dropping, it was to some extent a function of these economic, demographic factors, not metastasizing fringe beliefs.

In the meantime, 2016 stats reveal a 2.2-point gap between rates of MMR vaccination for white and black toddlers. Compare that with the 1.5-point dip at the very peak of Andrew Wakefield’s (short-lived) anti-vaxxer influence 20 years ago. If there’s a national story here, it should be this: The racial and social inequities in vaccination coverage did not end with the measles epidemic of 1989 to 1991. In the meantime, let’s be wary of the claim that we’ve been taken by extremists to the brink of a catastrophe. For now, the outbreak of disease in Clark County isn’t likely to spread that far beyond the troubled community in which it started. Misleading viral outrage, on the other hand, appears to have no end to its transmission."

Offline 2397

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Re: Is the danger of the anti-vax movement overhyped?
« Reply #1 on: February 16, 2019, 03:59:42 AM »
Maybe it's one of several topics that need more attention. Obviously, healthcare access and cost need to be improved, in particular in the US, and in many developing countries.

But it's definitely not on its own getting too much attention. If you don't average out the impact, if you look at communities where the anti-vaccination movement is strong, the impact is severe. It should be clear that we can't allow parents to deny their kids vaccinations for ideological reasons. For as long as that continues to happen, more needs to be done.

Anti-vaxxers are also keeping us from being able to globally eradicate the diseases that can be eradicated, with enough coverage. The longer they go on, the more opportunities they have to evolve and for everyone to be at risk again.

Can measles be eradicated globally?

Quote
Measles is one of the most infectious diseases. Before measles vaccine was introduced, nearly everyone contracted the disease at some point in childhood. By the late 1980s, most countries had incorporated measles vaccine into their routine immunization programmes. Globally, about 800 000 children nevertheless still die from measles annually, half of them in Africa. Eradicating measles would therefore play an important role in improving children's survival. The 24th Pan American Sanitary Conference in 1994 established a goal of eradicating measles from the Americas. Progress to date has been remarkable and the disease is no longer endemic in the Americas, with most countries having documented interruption of transmission. As of November 2003, 12 months had elapsed since the last indigenous case was detected in Venezuela. This experience shows that measles transmission can be interrupted, and that this can be sustained over a long period of time. Global eradication is feasible if an appropriate strategy is implemented. Even under a new paradigm in which immunization is not discontinued after measles is eradicated, eradication will be a good investment to avoid expensive epidemics and save the lives of almost one million children annually. A world free of measles by 2015 is not a dream.
« Last Edit: February 16, 2019, 04:42:22 AM by 2397 »

Offline daniel1948

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Re: Is the danger of the anti-vax movement overhyped?
« Reply #2 on: February 16, 2019, 10:20:36 AM »
No, I don’t think the danger of anti-vaxxers is overhyped. This week’s episode of Sawbones was about mumps, not nearly as dangerous a disease as measles, but still posing a danger of severe complications. The episode ends with an excellent tirade against the anti-vax movement. Anti-vaxxers are killing children. There is no “overhype” in this issue.

But we also need to address all the other reasons that kids don’t get their vaccines. Medical care needs to be available to all people, preferably free, but at the very least at a cost they can afford. As long as this is not the case, our nation is a failure.

And refusing to get your kids vaccinated is child abuse and should be treated as a class-1 felony.
Daniel
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Online bachfiend

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Re: Is the danger of the anti-vax movement overhyped?
« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2019, 03:14:34 PM »
Anti-vaxxers kill children.  Measles still kills.  And if it doesn’t kill, causes permant damage to some children:

https://www.theage.com.au/world/africa/more-than-900-dead-in-madagascar-measles-epidemic-20190216-p50y96.html
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Online fuzzyMarmot

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Re: Is the danger of the anti-vax movement overhyped?
« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2019, 03:34:55 PM »
Obviously these are deadly diseases and important issues of public health. The question, though, is whether we are implementing the best strategies to increase vaccinations rates and ensure herd immunity.

The piece argues that our energy would be much better directed toward providing access to health care in general, and vaccinations in particular, to the poor and disadvantaged.

I've always been puzzled by how little focus the evidence-based medicine community gives to issues surrounding access to health care. From what I've read, the biggest opportunities for improvement in public health (and the opportunities most supported by evidence) regard the deployment of resources and reform of the health care system. Perhaps these areas don't get attention, because many of the medical professionals involved do very well with the status quo system. Or maybe there is a more innocent explanation, and it is simply less fun to work on designing public assistance programs than it is to be outraged at anti-vaxxers, or to report on futuristic nanotech therapies.

Offline Tassie Dave

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Re: Is the danger of the anti-vax movement overhyped?
« Reply #5 on: February 16, 2019, 05:29:37 PM »
No, the danger is not over-hyped. We have to be vigilant or the numbers of anti-vaxxers will grow. They are small numbers at the moment and we need them to disappear entirely.

There is no excuse here in Australia not to get vaccinated. The vaccinations are free for all children.

The government has started withholding Family Tax Benefits from families that don't immunise their children. So to be an anti-vaxxer will be a financial burden on them.

https://www.dss.gov.au/our-responsibilities/families-and-children/benefits-payments/strengthening-immunisation-for-young-children

Offline daniel1948

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Re: Is the danger of the anti-vax movement overhyped?
« Reply #6 on: February 16, 2019, 06:26:57 PM »
The piece argues that our energy would be much better directed toward providing access to health care in general, and vaccinations in particular, to the poor and disadvantaged.

I've always been puzzled by how little focus the evidence-based medicine community gives to issues surrounding access to health care.

When I was active in the peace movement, mostly protesting nuclear weapons because I lived in a state where nuclear weapons are the main military presence in the state, there were always a few people arguing that I should be protesting conventional weapons instead. But it was noteworthy that nobody inside the peace movement made such arguments. The people who told me I was protesting the “wrong” thing were themselves not doing anything to reduce militarism or to advocate for social justice. It was always the people doing nothing who told me I was doing it “wrong.”

Nukes are not the only aspect of militarism, they were merely the aspect that was closest to me, and so were the aspect I chose to focus on.

Anti-vaxxers are not the only cause of childhood illnesses or of child mortality. But they are a very significant cause. It is the height of hypocritical assholery when someone who is doing nothing to increase the vaccination rate, tells people who are doing something, that they are doing it “wrong” and should be approaching the problem in a different way.

Yes, we need universal health care, and yes we need universal vaccination. And if you are working to provide free medical care to all, I applaud you. But if you’re doing nothing, you have no right to tell other people, who are doing something, how they should approach the problem.

We who were protesting nukes, and people who were opposing militarism in other ways, saw each other as all working toward the same end. Neither claimed the other was “less effective” or should be doing it differently.

People fighting the anti-vax movement, and people working for universal health care, are all working toward the same end, and neither is less important than the other. And I’ll bet dollars to doughnuts that the people criticizing the work against anti-vaxxers, are people who are doing nothing at all to improve vaccination rates. If you want to improve the world, get active, don’t just sit there telling the activists how to budget their time and energy. We need all approaches.
Daniel
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Offline CarbShark

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Re: Is the danger of the anti-vax movement overhyped?
« Reply #7 on: February 16, 2019, 06:45:52 PM »
Access to health care is a different issue, at least in the US.


Antivaxers tend to be middle class and somewhat educated. They generally have access to quality care




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Online fuzzyMarmot

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Re: Is the danger of the anti-vax movement overhyped?
« Reply #8 on: February 17, 2019, 12:16:37 AM »
I should clarify: I absolutely support efforts to fight anti-vaxxers and educate people about the safety of vaccines. I just thought this article was thought-provoking and worthy of engaging with. It did really make me wonder why skeptics (or at least the evidence-based medicine movement) are not more active on health policy debates.

Clearly the answer is to both combat anti-vax nonsense and to promote access to health care. Props to everyone working in either of those areas!

Offline amysrevenge

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Re: Is the danger of the anti-vax movement overhyped?
« Reply #9 on: February 17, 2019, 02:03:59 PM »
I guess a re-wording of the topic that wouldn't get the immediate answer of "NO anti-vax is BAD" would be:

Of the many causes for insufficient vaccination, are we placing a disproportionate amount of attention on anti-vax, at the cost of attention on other causes that have more of an impact?
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Offline DevoutCatalyst

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Re: Is the danger of the anti-vax movement overhyped?
« Reply #10 on: February 17, 2019, 02:10:15 PM »
No.

Offline Tassie Dave

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Re: Is the danger of the anti-vax movement overhyped?
« Reply #11 on: February 17, 2019, 02:16:49 PM »
I guess a re-wording of the topic that wouldn't get the immediate answer of "NO anti-vax is BAD" would be:

Of the many causes for insufficient vaccination, are we placing a disproportionate amount of attention on anti-vax, at the cost of attention on other causes that have more of an impact?

I can't speak for outside Australia, but without anti-vaxxers our country would be above the target rate of 95%

At December 2018, the national coverage rates were:
94.04% for all one year olds
90.75% for all two year olds
94.67% for all five year olds.

So fuck them. Anti-vaxxers are bad. There are some regional areas, (where anti-vaxxers have gained a foothold), around 70%

Offline daniel1948

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Re: Is the danger of the anti-vax movement overhyped?
« Reply #12 on: February 17, 2019, 03:02:27 PM »
Measles was virtually eliminated from the U.S. Then the anti-vaxxers came on the scene, and now children are dying of measles again.

World wide the situation might be different, but in the U.S., anti-vaxxers are THE reason for the resurgence of this deadly disease. Access to health care is a big and important social-justice issue. But even kids whose families could not afford medical care were getting vaccinated before Wakefield. The man is the biggest mass-murderer in U.S. history, along with his followers/accomplices.
Daniel
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Online fuzzyMarmot

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Re: Is the danger of the anti-vax movement overhyped?
« Reply #13 on: February 17, 2019, 03:44:00 PM »
I guess a re-wording of the topic that wouldn't get the immediate answer of "NO anti-vax is BAD" would be:

Of the many causes for insufficient vaccination, are we placing a disproportionate amount of attention on anti-vax, at the cost of attention on other causes that have more of an impact?

I wish I would have used that title instead :)

Offline CarbShark

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Re: Is the danger of the anti-vax movement overhyped?
« Reply #14 on: February 17, 2019, 09:37:24 PM »
It did really make me wonder why skeptics (or at least the evidence-based medicine movement) are not more active on health policy debates.

That is an excellent question and worthy of its own thread.
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