Search This Blog

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Measles in 2019

In The Politics of Autism, I look at the discredited notion that vaccines cause autism.  Antivax sentiment has been strong in the Pacific Northwest.

CDC reports: From January 1 to 31, 2019, 79 individual cases of measles have been confirmed in 10 states. The states that have reported cases to CDC are California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Texas, and Washington.

Rachel Frazin at The Hill:
Hundreds of anti-vaccination supporters demonstrated outside a public hearing in Washington state on Friday to protest a bill that would make it harder for families to opt out of mandatory vaccinations for children, the Associated Press reported.
The protest took place amid the state's worse measles outbreak in more than two decades. Health officials have reported at least 56 cases in Washington and Oregon.
An estimated 700 people demonstrated in Olympia, Washington, most of whom opposed stricter requirements, The Washington Post reported.
Wendy Orent at LAT:
The mystery is why they choose to believe such anecdotal “evidence” instead of the vast amount of scientific research that has found vaccines to be safe. One paper still cited by vaccine skeptics was published in 1998 by British physician Andrew Wakefield and colleagues. The article, which suggested a link between the measles vaccination and autism, has since been retracted and repeatedly disproved, and Wakefield has lost his British medical license. Yet his discredited autism hypothesis still resonates in the superheated atmosphere of anti-vaccine websites.

Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine and father of an autistic daughter, has watched the anti-vaccine movement closely. What surprises him, he said, is how activists “fine-tune the appeal to the local political environment. In Texas, anti-vaxxers use terms like “medical freedom” and “personal choice,” while in the Pacific Northwest, they talk about purity and toxic ingredients, said Hotez, author of “Vaccines did not Cause Rachel’s Autism: My Journey as a Vaccine Scientist, Pediatrician and Autism Dad." 
Russian social media trolls have promoted the bogus vaccine-autism connection.   Haider Warraich at Vox:
“Taking on the misinformation campaign about vaccines has become more complex now that research is demonstrating that a large amount of the social media posts represent state-sponsored cyberwarfare, particularly from Russia,” said Robert Califf, a former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration who now leads the Forge, Duke University’s center for health data science. The center is now mounting an effort to understand and address misinformation on the internet.