when the world’s most prestigious medical journal, The New England Journal of Medicine (known affectionately as NEJM), takes up the cause of vaccine advocacy.
In this week’s issue is an article that discusses the history and the development of US national vaccine programs, and also who opts out of those programs, the reasons why, and the likely results (which we are beginning to see, with the return of measles in some areas of the US) stemming from having clusters of unvaccinated children in the country.
Some of the authors’ names should sound familiar to you, especially if you’ve read Autism’s False Prophets. Dr. Walter Orenstein was the director of the National Immunization Program for the CDC at the time of the ‘super secret Simpsonwood conference‘, though he was not present at this meeting; Dr. Neal Halsey was the was head of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ vaccine advisory committee in 1999, and was a major force behind the (in retrospect, ill-conceived) decision to remove thimerosal from infant vaccines.
I was also happy to see that these leading vaccine experts recommend against pediatricians throwing ideologically unvaccinated children out of their practices, and instead take the time to listen to and address their parents’ concerns. I try my best to do this in my own practice, and I have no right to throw anyone out of my practice anyway. Also, persuasion can even work once in a while: a few weeks ago I was subbing for another doctor in a different clinic, and a woman came in with her as-yet unvaccinated 7-month-old specifically to talk about her concerns regarding vaccines (though she ended up vaccinating all her children, it was always with trepidation due to all the stuff she’d heard and read about online). We had a great conversation, and she came away with a list of Internet resources to pursue. I think she’ll be vaxing this baby as well.
So go and read the article, and let me know what you think.