Monday, May 30, 2016

Vaccines: Online documentaries and discussion with an expert

Here are some informative online resources on vaccines...

Discussion with Paul A. Offit, MD

Put Kids First

Note: This post is part of a series on vaccines.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

How North Carolina law enables vaccine hesitancy

Last year the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that "vaccine hesitancy" is a “complex and rapidly changing global problem that requires ongoing monitoring” and a “plan to measure and address” it. WHO's warning came with a compendium of survey questions to assess the underlying determinant of vaccine hesitancy and recommended some interventions to address those specific determinants, including:
North Carolina currently has both a “medical exemption” and a “religious exemption” but no “personal belief” exemption not founded upon a religious belief. But according to NC General Statute 130A-157, parents can simply send a note to school with their child:

There is no form for requesting religious exemptions in North Carolina. To claim a religious exemption, the parent or person requesting the exemption must write a statement of their religious objection to immunization, including the name and date of birth of the person for whom the exemption is being requested. This statement would then be provided to schools, child care programs, camps, etc. in place of an immunization record. If a family is requesting a religious exemption for more than one child, a separate statement should be prepared for each child. Statements of religious objection to immunization do not need to be notarized, signed by a religious leader, or prepared by an attorney. They do not need to be submitted to the state for review or approval.”

And as my favorite epidemiologist, Ben Goldacre, notes: "[A]s any trendy MMR-dodging north-London middle-class humanities-graduate couple with children would agree, just because vaccination has almost eradicated polio – a debilitating disease which as recently as 1988 was endemic in 125 countries – that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good thing."

Note: This post is part of series on vaccines.

Friday, May 27, 2016

The Andy Taylor approach to convincing vaccine "skeptics"

While writing my last post I was reminded of an episode of the Andy Griffith Show, the County Nurse (1962), in which Andy convinces Rafe Hollister to get a tetanus shot. If you haven't seen it, it involved some reverse psychology and a sad song that Andy said he might sing (if he "aint too broke up") at Rafe's funeral (after he dies from tetanus because he didn't get the shot).

And to further illustrate the point of my last post, while searching for this video online I stumbled upon this disturbing piece by a "natural health blogger and food freedom activist" who is worried about this "disturbing forced vaccine push" by Sherriff Taylor.

Julie Adams, The Andy Griffith Show, "The County Nurse," 1962
Rafe Hollister gets a tetanus shot
But as it turns out, Andy may have been onto something: Reminding people about the terrible diseases that vaccines prevent, and their consequences, appears to be a successful way to convince vaccine "skeptics":
“It’s more effective to accentuate the positive reasons to vaccinate and take a non-confrontational approach — ‘Here are reasons to get vaccinated’ — than directly trying to counter the negative arguments against vaccines,” said Keith Holyoak, UCLA Distinguished Professor of Psychology and a senior author of the study. “There was a reason we all got vaccinated: Measles makes you very sick. That gets forgotten in the polarizing debate on whether the vaccine has side effects...”
“People who are skeptical about vaccines are concerned about the safety of their children,” said Derek Powell, a UCLA graduate student in psychology and co-lead author of the study. “They want their kids to be healthy. That’s also what doctors want. Instead of fighting their misconception, remind them why the vaccine is the best way to keep their kids safe...”
“Try not to be directly confrontational,” Holyoak said. “Try to find common ground, where possible, and build on that.” 
That said, it may sometimes be tough to find common ground with an extreme minority who believe mandatory vaccines are a form of "medical terrorism."
Note: This post is part of a series on vaccines.

Eliminating non-medical vaccine exemptions in NC

Join the Put Kids First Campaign!

I'm the Legislative Chair of the Secular Coalition for North Carolina (SCNC), and we are holding our third annual lobby day at the North Carolina General Assembly on June 21. If you would like to participate in person please RSVP via our website before June 14. In addition to urging our state lawmakers to repeal HB 2 in full, we will also be lobbing them for a new bill to put kids first and eliminate non-medical vaccine exemptions in North Carolina.

Last year a bipartisan group of state senators introduced a modest bill that would have enacted stricter immunization requirements by repealing the religious exemption, revising vaccination requirements to make them more consistent with CDC recommendations, and requiring all students be screened for severe combined immunodeficiency prior to immunization. The bill was dropped by its co-sponsors less than two weeks after it was introduced - ironically enough on April Fools' Day.

As I noted in the op-ed I wrote for SCNC at the time, a vocal minority of misguided individuals quickly lashed out at the co-sponsors of the bill on their Facebook pages, and several dozen protestors rallied in Raleigh holding signs comparing mandatory vaccination to Nazi Germany, war crimes and terrorism. We hope that our state legislators are ready to listen to more reasonable voices on this issue. As the executive director at the Colorado Children’s Immunization Coalition, Stephanie Wasserman, recently told NPR, "It shouldn’t be easier to get an exemption than it is to get a vaccine."

Please consider joining SCNC for our lobby day in Raleigh, or join SCA's Put Kids First campaign and contact your NC state representatives to sponsor an updated immunization bill that addresses the concerns expressed by the North Carolina Pediatric Society last year. We need your help to encourage our state legislators to pass evidence-based policies and not be intimidated once again by a misinformed but vocal minority with a crash course in epidemiology from the University of Google.

Note: This post is part of a series on vaccine policy in NC.

Update: If you can't make it to Raleigh on June 21, you can still help with this effort. Just make sure you sign up for action alerts from SCA, and we'll send you alert alerts with details on what you can do locally to support our Lobby Day effort and future issues of concern for secular North Carolinians..

Monday, May 9, 2016

On boundaries

Tracey Moody's post...

Reminded me that I had recently spotted another case in the wild locally...
So please remember...some (not all) Christians have issues with boundaries...