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Sunday, August 28, 2016

Vaccine Hesitancy

In The Politics of Autism, I analyze the discredited notion that vaccines cause autism.  
More fundamentally, many of the advocates of the vaccine theory reject the authority of “the establishment.” They believe that scientists and government agencies that support vaccines are blind, indifferent, or corrupt. “No one mentions that these people have everything at stake in this debate,” writes one. “If countless parents are right and vaccines have damaged a generation of children, people will be held responsible—the same people who tell us vaccines are safe.”
Such sentiments find fertile ground in public opinion, since trust in government has plunged over the past half-century.
At The Journal of Health Care Politics, Policy, and Law, Efthimios Parasidis has an article titled Public Health Law and Institutional Vaccine Skepticism.  The abstract:
Vaccine-hesitant parents are often portrayed as misinformed dilettantes clinging to unscientific Internet chatter and a debunked study that linked vaccines and autism. While this depiction may be an accurate portrayal of a small (but vocal) subset, scholars have unearthed a more complex picture that casts vaccine hesitancy in the context of broader notions of lack of trust in government and industry. At the same time, commentators have highlighted limitations of the vaccine injury compensation program and US Supreme Court Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg have argued that preemption laws that provide vaccine manufacturers with broad legal immunities create “a regulatory vacuum in which no one ensures that vaccine manufacturers adequately take account of scientific and technological advancements when designing or distributing their products.” In short, the discussions surrounding vaccine hesitancy that dominate public discourse detract from serious debate as to whether amendments to vaccine-related laws can address the limitations of the existing framework governing immunizations. This commentary examines these issues through a public health law lens.