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Saturday, October 20, 2018

AZ Scraps Vax Education Program

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

Stephanie Innes at The Arizona Republic reports that Arizona has scrapped a vaccine education program.
The pilot online course, modeled after programs in Oregon and Michigan, was created in response to the rising number of Arizona schoolchildren skipping school-required immunizations against diseases like measles, mumps and whooping cough because of their parents' beliefs.
But some parents, who were worried the optional course was going to become mandatory, complained to the Governor's Regulatory Review Council, which reviews regulations to ensure they are necessary and do not adversely affect the public. The six-member council is appointed by Gov. Doug Ducey, with an ex-officio general counsel.
Members of the council questioned the state health department about the course after receiving the public feedback about it, emails show. The state responded by canceling it.
The complaints that ended the pilot program came from about 120 individuals and families, including 20 parents who said that they don't vaccinate their children, records show.
Also at The Arizona Republic, E.J. Montini:
As Republican state Rep. Heather Carter said, "I'm not sure why providing 'information' is seen as a negative thing. Providing information doesn't take away a parent's choice to seek an exemption. ... This is a major concern. Vaccines have saved lives for generations. We all want to live in safe and healthy communities."

Anti-vaccine conspiracy theories have existed for as long as there have been vaccines. In the early 1800s there were wild stories about smallpox vaccine recipients turning into cows.
These days anti-vaxxers tilt more toward the debunked notion that vaccines cause autism.
When an state panel acquiesces to a small minority of such voices it runs the risk of putting everyone’s children and all those with weakened immune systems in harm's way.
Dr. Karen Lewis, Medical Director of the Arizona Immunization Program Office of the Arizona Department of Health Services, writes at AZ Pulse:
In a recent study on the eighteen states that allow for personal belief exemptions (also known as nonmedical exemptions [NMEs]), Arizona ties at 4th place for having the highest percentage of NMEs in kindergarteners. The study found Maricopa County has the highest rate of NMEs among all of the studied metropolitan areas.
Vaccine hesitancy is increasing in the United States. In a national telephone survey, approximately 3% of parents reported refusing all vaccines for their children and almost 20% had refused or delayed at least one of the recommended childhood vaccines. In a survey by the American Academy of Pediatrics, 87% of pediatricians had encountered parents who refused a vaccine. The most common reasons that parents refused vaccines were that they believed that vaccines were unnecessary and that they had concerns about autism.
Vaccines do not cause autism. Twenty large epidemiologic studies done in several countries by multiple investigators have shown no links between autism and vaccines. Yet people who are fearful about autism and other misconceptions continue not to vaccinate their children.