Monday, March 21, 2011

GOP Proposing Cuts To Vaccine Programs?

A proposal by the GOP to cut the Centers for Disease Control vaccination programs is the wrong move and will end up costing far more in the end.
The House GOP's 2011 budget would chop $156 million from the Centers for Disease Control's funding for immunization and respiratory diseases. The GOP reductions are likely to hit the CDC's support for state and local immunization programs, the agency's ability to evaluate which vaccines are working, and its work to educate the public about recommended vaccines for children, teenagers, and other susceptible populations. The CDC especially focuses on serving lower-income families who receive vaccines at state and local health offices and community health clinics, rather than a private doctor's office.
(HT: Obdicut at LGF)

Deadly Choices: How the Anti-Vaccine Movement Threatens Us All by Dr. Paul Offit covers the subject of vaccinations and how the anti-vax movement is going to open up a can of worms in the form of reemergence of diseases that were no longer prevalent in the US because of a determined public health system that made scourges and killers like polio a thing of the past.

The book deals directly with the public health crisis that grows out of non-vaccination for any number of reasons, and he slams the exceptions being considered from routine vaccination because it opens the door for the reemergence of diseases that have deadly consequences like measles, whooping cough, and any number of other ailments.

This should be an essential reading for anyone dreaming of reducing immunizations based on junk science (like the thimerosol, DPT, overloading immune systems, autism, etc. scares). Offit debunks those claims - for instance noting that an infant is exposed to hundreds of thousands of organisms (bacteria, virus, protozoa, fungi, etc.) from the moment the infant leaves the womb, and the immune system is in a constant state of activity such that the inclusion of some additional proteins that form the basis of the vaccines could not possibly overwhelm a developing immune system.

Junk science formed the basis of the autism link (based on the now fully debunked fraudulent Wakefield study), and yet people still buy in to that nonsense. Then, you've got the folks who want to give parents an opt-out to avoid immunizing their kids on any number of grounds, that include religion. All that does is open the door to a reemergence of diseases that we now consider rare - because immunization has eliminated the diseases and the risks associated with them.

Adding still more diseases to the list of those that are rare and/or eliminated is a good thing - and stopping anti-vaccination programs is going to do nothing except cause an increase in costs - both direct in the form of hospitalizations, doctors visits, ER, and indirect, lost wages from work, lost productivity, etc.

This is the wrong policy to be pursuing. It wont save money, and it certainly wont improve public health. What it will do is allow diseases that are rare to reassert themselves with deadly consequences.

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