Monday, January 10, 2011

Paul Offit on Science Friday: The anti-vaccine movement

Paul Offit has a new book out called: "Deadly Choices: How the Anti-Vaccine Movement Threatens Us All."  He was on NPR's Science Friday last week to discuss his book and touch on the death and destruction caused by Andrew Wakefield's scientific fraud (see Brian Deer's BMJ report here) and other aspects of the anti-vaccine movement.

Some short clips from the 17-minute piece:

Paul Offit (on the right) with H Fred Clark
Ira Flatow mentioned that when Dr. Offit was on the program in 2008 a women called in and basically said "No amount of research, none of it, done by government or pharmaceutical companies could change her mind about vaccinating her children."  She said "I don't put any faith in anything my government tells me"

In the 2010 interview a caller said: given the "vast number of immunizations that you are requiring at such a young age that really is taking a toll on the immune system, I think that's just logic"

Paul Offitt responds by pointing out that 100 years ago there was one vaccine, the small pox vaccine with about 200 immunological components. Now there are 14 different vaccines in 26 doses and all of these vaccines combined have less components, perhaps 160 immunological components, than the single small pox vaccine.  He also went on to explain how this is not mercury (no longer in kids vaccines). Even with this evidence the caller said "I'm not hearing anything that sounds credible to me as an educated adult."

And that's the concern.  The anti-vaccine movement is a shifty "business".  First it was vaccines = autism.  After numerous studies that showed NO link, they moved on to mercury.  When mercury was removed, they continue to blame it even though it is not there!  Now it is the number of vaccines, which is irrelevant.

If it was the number of vaccines that was causing the problem then Paul Offit points out that we would all be dead.  We are exposed to many more viruses, bacteria and other onslaughts than could possibly be given via vaccines.  But it is silly to argue.  This is not a discussion you can have, nor is it logical, but rather a symptom of the anti-scientific movement. If people don't believe science, you can't convince them with science...

This past weekend's All Things Considered touched on the same topic but they put a more positive spin on the recent developments.  I have posted a link to their piece titled: "As The Facts Win Out, Vaccinations May, Too," below.  Seth Mnookin, a contributing editor at Vanity Fair, discusses his book "The Panic Virus: A True Story of Medicine, Science, and Fear" and the deadly impact that the anti-vaccine movement has had.

Science Friday with Ira Flatow (1/7/2011)

1 comment:

  1. Very nice commentary Eli.

    As you alluded to in your commentary, making a cogent argument to anti-vaccine supporters is an exercise in futility as many are anti-science and 'anti-government'. Their position will not be based on an objective review of facts, data and outcomes.