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Sunday, August 16, 2015

Trump & Vaccines

In The Politics of AutismI discuss the electoral politics of the issue.

Cameron Joseph reports at The New York Daily News:
Donald Trump's White House bid is leaving some people feeling queasy - but it's his opposition to common vaccinations that could make people sick.
Trump has long trumpeted his false belief that the common vaccine to prevent measles, mumps and rubella has a direct link to rising rates of autism in the U.S.
And while most experts predict his presidential campaign will eventually collapse, they worry his spreading of the conspiracy could convince more parents not to vaccinate their kids, and lead to outbreaks of measles and other dangerous diseases that vaccines had all but wiped out in the U.S.
"As a political scientist I think it's extremely unlikely he'll win the nomination, but his prominence does run the risk of bringing his views on vaccines back in the spotlight," said Dartmouth University Professor Brendan Nyhan, who has done research on why the anti-vaccine movement's conspiracy theories have been so hard to dispel.
And with the topic back in the news, experts worry Trump, now with a huge national spotlight as the GOP front-runner, could do much more damage than he did with past remarks.

"He's got a bigger megaphone now and a bigger megaphone means a greater opportunity to spread disinformation," said Claremont McKenna College Professor Jack Pitney, an autism policy expert. "It's one thing to be an obnoxious jerk. It's another to say something that causes people to get sick.
Trump will claim that he is not "anti-vaccine," but that he favors spreading out vaccinations.  So why not follow his advice?  Because it's dangerous. On June 2, 2014, Tara Haelle wrote at Scientific American:
Following the CDC guidelines means children may get as many as five vaccines at one visit. But some parents space out vaccines, leading to delays in shots such as the first measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) dose, recommended when a child is between 12 and 15 months old.
The new study, published in the May 19 [2014] Pediatrics, found that administering the MMR shot or the less frequently used MMRV one (which includes the varicella, or chickenpox, vaccine) later, between 16 and 23 months, doubles the child’s risk of developing a fever-caused, or febrile, seizure as a reaction to the vaccine. The risk of a febrile seizure following the MMR is approximately one case in 3,000 doses for children aged 12 to 15 months but one case in 1,500 doses for children aged 16 to 23 months “This study adds to the evidence that the best way to prevent disease and minimize side effects from vaccines is to vaccinate on the recommended schedule,” says Simon Hambidge, lead author of the study and the director of general pediatrics at Denver Health. Otherwise, he says, an undervaccinated child is left at risk of infectious disease for a longer period. “Delaying also makes for increased visits to the doctor’s office,” he says, “along with the time and hassle and risk of exposure to other infectious diseases in the doctor’s office.” Hambidge’s previous research found that pediatric office visits might increase the risk of gastrointestinal illness (symptoms then potentially misinterpreted as a vaccine reaction).