Vaccination Policy

Rubella elimination in the Americas and the Vaccine effectiveness argument

Vaccines are arguably the most successful public health intervention of the 20th Century. The successes that have been noted in reducing disease and deaths are immeasurable and hopefully there are many more successes to come with the current work being done with Polio. Within the last 15-20 years, the anti-vaccine movement has become a major player not only in debating the effectiveness and safety of vaccines, they have become an entrenched force that has driven down the community (Herd) effectiveness of vaccine through their non-compliance with vaccination standards. Many of their main arguments are invalid (autism/vaccine link) and their stubbornness to comply claiming personal exemptions bring harm to children. Each position previously mentioned is one in the same since many anti-vaxers forgo vaccines because of a personal belief and/or their rights are being infringed upon by a paternalistic governmental force.

This week, it was reported that Rubella has been eliminated from the Americas. This is highly historic as the efforts and gains made in the Americas can begin the worldwide elimination of Rubella worldwide. To what can we thank for this development? It would have to be the MMR vaccine! Through the use of the MMR vaccine, we have the power to eliminate vaccine prevenatble disease worldwide to end major suffering. Vaccine preventable diseases can be eliminated from out world and bring about a higher standard of health, improving life expectancy, reducing infant and child mortality due to these diseases and have a major effect on health costs.

Preventative health from a vaccination standpoint makes sense as we look not only to reduce disease burden, but we also want to reduce health costs for treatments later in life. Vaccination is an investment, there are costs to vaccination but those paying the costs must see these costs as investments in individual and community health. These investments MUST be made at the beginning of life to control health costs at the end of life. More investment at the front end keeps health costs low, improves overall coverage for all and can allow for coverage more more acute and complex health issues later in life. There is no excuse for not wanting to vaccinate when we can see that their effects on disease burden are obvious!

The tug-of-war between pro-vaccine and anti-vaccine movements continue. With smallpox declared eradicated 35 years ago and two other diseases heading towards eradication, another check can be placed in the column for the pro-vaccine movement while the foundation of the anti-vaccine movement suffers another blow.

The Jenny McCarthy Mistake

ABC today announced that Jenny McCarthy will replace Elisabeth Hasselbeck as a co-host of the daily talker, “The View.” I normally don’t talk pop culture here but this is a significant hire for many of the wrong reasons. Many know Ms. McCarthy from her days on MTV and Playboy but I think her most infamous activities have been as an active anti-vaccine crusader due to the misinformed view that vaccine use caused autism.

Since the refutation of this link, there has been a gradual ramping down of the rhetoric linking the two but the damage has been done. It is amazing how in the age that we live in, we have gone from an era of little information, trusting our medical professionals almost blindly to information overload and the potential to spread total misinformation. The age of the internet provides all of us with powerful tools to question many things around us but it is the validity of the information that we acquire that makes the difference. Jenny McCarthy is now a figurehead in an already uphill battle in maintaining herd immunity or more simply a high, constant level of people within a population who are vaccinated against controllable diseases. Giving her this forum I think is highly irresponsible on ABC’s behalf and could act as a soapbox for more widely disseminated discussion and misinformation to a population that is overloaded with all types of information from many questionable sources. 

Where Public Health and Biology Meet

Hello out there, and thanks for reading. The purpose of this blog is to present a range of topics relating to Public Health, Science and Health Policy. How many articles or news programs do you watch that actually breakdown the substance of the issue into basic bits of information for you to understand? Probably very few. Also, as biased as the news is becoming it is a miracle that any of us get any clear, concise and non-opinionated information anymore. That is where this blog comes in, presenting information in what I hope will be concise and informative (and hopefully with no opinions). Why? So you can form your own opinion or just be more informed and as the title states have a wealth of information to help you become a healthier you.

What do I ask of you:

1. If you read, please try to comment or ask a question. In fact if you have any topics of interest I will try my level best to address them. (More on that in a minute)

2. Discuss here or with others. Information is a powerful tool and my goal is to educate as many people as possible. My belief is “each one, teach one” or as they like to say on Sportscenter, “Thanks for sharing the knowledge”.

3. Tell a friend. I hope to make this blog interesting to read in simple language and as I said previously with as less opinion as possible. This is a work in progress and I hope you will read along as this blog becomes more refined.

Now that you know the areas of interest (and they are not totallyall my interest areas but they all cover alot of ground) that gives you an idea of the scope of what I would like to share with all of you. However, I would like to also cover basics in Biology and Science in addition to what is going on in the world of public health. Please let me know if there is a topic that interests you and I will give it my best to outline the topic in as basic a manner as possible. I hope to expand this blog into a larger site and possibly use other avenues to get the word out about this blog so stay tuned.