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Thursday, July 5, 2018

Vaccination: Good News, and Ongoing Challenges

 In The Politics of Autism, I look at the discredited notion that vaccines cause autism.

At Metro (UK), Chris of the National Autistic Society recalls the infamous 1998 Wakefield article making the bogus suggestion that vaccines cause autism.
Fortunately, I was only four-years-old at the time; but so many older autistic people have shared their memories of the months and years that followed, as thousands upon thousands of parents opted out of the MMR vaccine. Vaccination – one of the most incredible and life-saving discoveries in the history of medicine – was being avoided by parents so terrified that their child would be autistic, that they would put their child’s health at risk to avoid being like us.
Of course, 20 years later, we know that there is no scientific credibility in being anti-vaccination. However, what is more worrying for the autistic community is the ignorance which led to such a response in the first place. Parents whose only knowledge of autism came from TV tropes and media hysteria feared that having an autistic child would be the end for their family.
The devastating effects of that article in The Lancet 20 years ago are still being felt, with increased rates of measles this year from those who were not vaccinated when they were children. In order to prevent such an unpleasant chain of events from happening again, we need to work together for a world where autistic people are understood, supported, and included – not feared
Bob Egelko reports at The San Francisco Chronicle:
California did not violate freedom of religion or the right to an education when it required virtually all public and private school students to be vaccinated against contagious illnesses in 2016, a state appeals court says.
“Compulsory immunization has long been recognized as the gold standard for preventing the spread of contagious diseases,” the Second District Court of Appeal in Los Angeles said Monday. Citing California rulings as early as 1890 that rejected challenges to mandatory-vaccination laws, the court said the new law was not discriminatory and was a valid measure to protect public health.
The law was prompted by an outbreak of measles in 2014 that was traced to youngsters at Disneyland who had not been vaccinated. It requires all schoolchildren to be inoculated against illnesses including measles, mumps, chickenpox, tetanus, whooping cough and rubella.
Last week, Soumya Karlamangla reported at The Los Angeles Times:
In a decision that could signal how California’s fierce vaccine debates will play out in the coming years, the Medical Board of California has ordered 35 months’ probation for Dr. Bob Sears, an Orange County pediatrician well-known for being sympathetic to parents opposed to vaccines.

In 2016, the board threatened to revoke Sears’ medical license for wrongly writing a doctor’s note for a 2-year-old boy that exempted him from all childhood vaccinations. This week, the medical board settled on a lesser punishment.
Sears can keep practicing medicine but will be required to take 40 hours of medical education courses a year, as well as an ethics class, and also be monitored by a fellow doctor. He also must notify all hospital and medical facilities where he practices of the order and is not allowed to supervise physician assistants or nurse practicioners.