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Wednesday, March 6, 2024

Measles and Polio: Back to the Future

In The Politics of Autism, I analyze the discredited notion that vaccines cause autism. This bogus idea can hurt people by allowing diseases to spread   Examples include measlesCOVID, flu, and polio.

Michael Hiltzik at LAT:

We’ve already seen that the embrace of pernicious anti-vaccination claptrap by unscrupulous politicians and government officials has had detectable impacts on public health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now reporting 41 cases of measles, for which a vaccine has been available since 1963, in 16 states.
At a campaign rally in Richmond, Va., on Feb. 2, [Trump] said this, referring to the policy he would implement as president: “I will not give one penny to any school that has a vaccine mandate or a mask mandate.”


Now let’s turn to Robert F. Kennedy Jr., whose campaign for president has allowed his dangerous anti-vaccine hogwash to be mainstreamed into the body politic like an IV drip of strychnine. His pitch so bristles with disinformation and pseudoscience that it’s been disavowed by virtually his entire family, whose name has been synonymous with progressive politics and policy for generations.

Children’s Health Defense, the anti-vaccine organization Kennedy founded and chairs, last week platformed a fatuously inaccurate 2013 book claiming that polio isn’t caused by a virus and that the polio vaccine “doesn’t work.”

The book was conclusively debunked long ago. But last Tuesday, the organization published an interview with its co-author Suzanne Humphries, in which she repeated her claim that polio is caused by toxins, not the virus.

“According to Humphries, there are no worthwhile vaccines, not even smallpox or tetanus, and certainly not the polio vaccine,” the interview read.

Helen Branswell at STAT:

On Sunday, public health officials in two Michigan counties warned their residents that they may have been exposed to measles. In Wayne County, an adult who had contracted the virus abroad had been in health-related settings in Dearborn on two days last week — two urgent care clinics, a CVS pharmacy, and a hospital emergency department. Health officials in neighboring Washtenaw County issued a similar alert about a different case — also an adult, also infected abroad — who was in the emergency department of a hospital in Ypsilanti on March 1.

Both counties urged unvaccinated people who had been in the listed locations at the listed times to contact public health or their health care provider, warning them to phone ahead if they needed to seek in-person care.

These kinds of notices are standard public health practice during measles outbreaks. Alerts of this sort may also warn that someone with measles had been in a crowded public location — an airport, a shopping mall, a theme park.

But in Florida, where 10 residents and at least four non-residents have been diagnosed with measles in the past month or so, the Department of Health has released scant information about those cases. The seeming reticence to speak openly about measles leaves in the dark anyone in the public who might be concerned about whether they may have had an exposure. Likewise, people considering spring break vacations to Florida who want to avoid measles exposures have almost no information on which to plan their trips.