June 2020 ACIP meeting – meningococcal, influenza, COVID-19 vaccines

June 2020 ACIP meeting

This article about the June 2020 ACIP meeting was written by Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco, CA), who is a frequent contributor to this and many other blogs, providing in-depth, and intellectually stimulating, articles about vaccines, medical issues, social policy, and the law.

Professor Reiss writes extensively in law journals about the social and legal policies of vaccination. Additionally, Reiss is also a member of the Parent Advisory Board of Voices for Vaccines, a parent-led organization that supports and advocates for on-time vaccination and the reduction of vaccine-preventable disease.

During June 2020, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) held its second annual meeting for the year. Because we are in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, and traveling is challenging for many – including, I suspect, for several of the Committee members, not all of which live near Georgia – the meeting, like most conferences this year (those which were not canceled) was held virtually. The CDC still provided an opportunity for oral comment, though there were some logistical challenges with their new system.

The June 2020 ACIP meeting discussed meningococcal vaccines, influenza vaccines, and then had the opportunity for public comment. The entire afternoon was devoted to COVID-19 and COVID-19 vaccines.

As with previous meetings, ACIP is a geek’s dream meeting and everyone else’s – except the experts, and I suspect – hope – most experts are geeks –  boredom feast. I learned a lot.

One of the most important lessons is that the committee takes vaccine safety very, very seriously. The other is that decisions on vaccines – like most policy decisions – are always made on incomplete knowledge. We never know everything. That is where expert judgment comes in. Incomplete knowledge does not mean there is not enough knowledge to assess benefits/risks, though any such assessment should be reassessed when new knowledge comes in.

Finally, it’s important to remember – and something the anti-vaccine observers of these meetings seem unaware of, but that doctors treating patients likely are not – that a decision not to use a vaccine is a decision with costs and risks – the costs and risks of the disease the vaccine prevents.

The choice is never between no risk and the vaccine because we don’t have vaccines unless a disease causes substantial mortality and morbidity. The choice is always whether, given the information, an informed decision can be made and which risks that information suggests are higher – those of the vaccine or those of not vaccinating.

Finally, my notes are over 14 pages of text for the June 2020 ACIP meeting, and that’s because my computer crashed at the end and I lost my last two pages of notes, which is really frustrating – and I have 153 screenshots of slides (yes, I am surprised too). I really want this post to be shorter. So I’m going to try and be very brief, and I’m happy to share my full notes, just email me at [email protected] Continue reading “June 2020 ACIP meeting – meningococcal, influenza, COVID-19 vaccines”

Colorado vaccine bill – Gov. Jared Polis signs SB163 into law

colorado vaccine bill

This article, about the 2020 Colorado vaccine bill, was written by Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco, CA), who is a frequent contributor to this and many other blogs, providing in-depth, and intellectually stimulating, articles about vaccines, medical issues, social policy, and the law.

Professor Reiss writes extensively in law journals about the social and legal policies of vaccination. Additionally, Reiss is also a member of the Parent Advisory Board of Voices for Vaccines, a parent-led organization that supports and advocates for on-time vaccination and the reduction of vaccine-preventable disease.

On June 7, 2020, Colorado’s House Health Committee heard testimony on SB163, a bill to improve vaccine rates. In spite of the pressure and aggressive – and dishonest – tactics from bill opponents, the committee voted to move the bill forward to the appropriations committee, from where it would go to the House floor and, if passed, to the governor’s desk.

On June 26, 2020, Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed the bill into law. 

Continue reading “Colorado vaccine bill – Gov. Jared Polis signs SB163 into law”

Eve Switzer settles her libel suit against Oklahoma anti-vaccine activists

Ee Switzer

This article about Dr. Eve Switzer’s libel suit against some anti-vaccine activists was written by Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco, CA), who is a frequent contributor to this and many other blogs, providing in-depth, and intellectually stimulating, articles about vaccines, medical issues, social policy, and the law.

Professor Reiss writes extensively in law journals about the social and legal policies of vaccination. Additionally, Reiss is also a member of the Parent Advisory Board of Voices for Vaccines, a parent-led organization that supports and advocates for on-time vaccination and the reduction of vaccine-preventable disease.

In early June 2020, Dr. Eve Switzer apparently settled a libel suit that she had filed against an anti-vaccine organization – Oklahoman for Health and Parental Rights – and an anti-vaccine physician, Dr. Jim Meehan from Oklahoma. Both Meehan and the organization both wrote a statement admitting, in essence, that information they posted about Dr. Eve Switzer from Oklahoma was untrue.

While these statements may not seem resounding, they are, in fact, a substantial concession and admission, and part of a settlement of a defamation suit Dr. Switzer brought against these actors that have been settled in her favor. <

Generally, I do not recommend that people turn to defamation suits against anti-vaccine activists. That is because these suits are hard to win under our law (even if there is ground to see the statements as untrue and offensive), any win would take a long time and likely be costly, and the publicity would likely benefit the science denier more than the plaintiff.

Dr. Eve Switzer’s example suggests a different approach can, in some cases, lead to legal success. I still, however, hold to my view that suing is probably not a desirable choice for many of you – this suit was lengthy, not easy, and led to some publicity that I suspect hurt Dr. Switzer.

That said, I am glad that Dr. Switzer’s efforts ended with a settlement that would make it very hard for her attackers to repeat the offensive misrepresentations that led to this suit, and compensated her for her expenses. Continue reading “Eve Switzer settles her libel suit against Oklahoma anti-vaccine activists”

Nick Catone Facebook lawsuit – more questions than answers

Nick Catone Facebook lawsuit

This article about the Nick Catone Facebook lawsuit was written by Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco, CA), who is a frequent contributor to this and many other blogs, providing in-depth, and intellectually stimulating, articles about vaccines, medical issues, social policy, and the law.

Professor Reiss writes extensively in law journals about the social and legal policies of vaccination. Additionally, Reiss is also a member of the Parent Advisory Board of Voices for Vaccines, a parent-led organization that supports and advocates for on-time vaccination and the reduction of vaccine-preventable disease.

Recently, Nick Catone – who lost his son tragically in 2017, and blamed vaccines for it, with no good supporting evidence –  sued – or tried to sue – Facebook in federal court for, allegedly, removing his account.

The Nick Catone Facebook lawsuit is problematic, and the story, in its entirety, seems strange. Continue reading “Nick Catone Facebook lawsuit – more questions than answers”

Lori Matheson refuses vaccines for child – Michigan Supreme Court disagrees

Lori Matheson

On November 21, 2019, the Court of Appeals in Michigan rejected the appeal of Lori Matheson against a trial court order ordering her to give her daughter more time with her father, to vaccinate her daughter according to the recommended schedule, and to choose a new pediatrician for the child in collaboration with her father. The court found that it’s in the child’s best interest to be vaccinated.

This is a dispute between the divorced parents of a now four-year-old child (whose name is omitted for her privacy) about her care and custody. Vaccines are only one of the issues in dispute, the one I will focus on (since that is my area). Continue reading “Lori Matheson refuses vaccines for child – Michigan Supreme Court disagrees”

ICAN FOIA lawsuit – misrepresenting another non-win from anti-vaccine group

ICAN FOIA lawsuit

This article about another ICAN FOIA lawsuit was written by Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco, CA), who is a frequent contributor to this and many other blogs, providing in-depth, and intellectually stimulating, articles about vaccines, medical issues, social policy, and the law.

Professor Reiss writes extensively in law journals about the social and legal policies of vaccination. Additionally, Reiss is also a member of the Parent Advisory Board of Voices for Vaccines, a parent-led organization that supports and advocates for on-time vaccination and the reduction of vaccine-preventable disease.

The Informed Consent Action Network (ICAN) is an anti-vaccine organization, founded in 2016 by Del Bigtree, largely funded by a New York couple, Bernard and Lisa Selz.

On March 4 and March 5, 2020, ICAN claimed a “win” against the CDC that, they said, prevented CDC from claiming vaccines don’t cause autism. In reality, the ICAN Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit was settled, and the settlement doesn’t counter the existing scientific consensus that vaccines do not cause autism. Continue reading “ICAN FOIA lawsuit – misrepresenting another non-win from anti-vaccine group”

February 2020 ACIP Meeting review – Ebola, influenza, and coronavirus

february 2020 acip meeting

This article about the February 2020 ACIP meeting was written by Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco, CA), who is a frequent contributor to this and many other blogs, providing in-depth, and intellectually stimulating, articles about vaccines, medical issues, social policy, and the law.

Professor Reiss writes extensively in law journals about the social and legal policies of vaccination. Additionally, Reiss is also a member of the Parent Advisory Board of Voices for Vaccines, a parent-led organization that supports and advocates for on-time vaccination and the reduction of vaccine-preventable disease.

I attended a large part of the February 2020 ACIP meeting (Advisory Committee of Immunization Practices) in Atlanta, GA. I had planned to stay throughout, but my airline changed my return flight and I had to leave before the end on the second day. I did, however, watch the first day and the first two parts of the second.

The coronavirus crisis changed some things. For example, there were multiple international groups visiting the CDC (there was also at least one group that was there for other reasons and sat on part of the meeting). And we had a presentation on the topic from Dr. Nancy Messonnier.

I will describe the meeting in the order it happened, though this is the very abbreviated version. As I said before, an ACIP meeting is a geek’s dream – there’s a lot of data provided and in-depth discussions of details. The committee has a heavy and important responsibility, and since it was targeted by anti-vaccine activists is carrying it out under tricky circumstances. Continue reading “February 2020 ACIP Meeting review – Ebola, influenza, and coronavirus”

“Hear This Well” anti-vaccine group misrepresents Colorado legislation

hear this well

This article, about the anti-vaccine group, Hear This Well, was written by Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco, CA), who is a frequent contributor to this and many other blogs, providing in-depth, and intellectually stimulating, articles about vaccines, medical issues, social policy, and the law.

Professor Reiss writes extensively in law journals about the social and legal policies of vaccination. Additionally, Reiss is also a member of the Parent Advisory Board of Voices for Vaccines, a parent-led organization that supports and advocates for on-time vaccination and the reduction of vaccine-preventable disease.

It is not uncommon for anti-vaccine activists, like the Hear This Well group, to misrepresent pending legislation or passed legislation. Striking examples included anti-vaccine activists claiming that SB276, the California law that added a review of medical exemptions, would remove all medical exemptions.

Similarly, these activists proposed a proposition to undo Maine’s law removing the non-medical exemption from school immunization mandates. Opponents, apparently, misrepresented the bill to people, to the extent that some signed thinking they were supporting vaccine mandates

In California, as well, when opponents tried to put SB277 on the ballot, they misrepresented the law by trying to claim it mandated HPV vaccines, which was untrue.

It’s not clear whether the misrepresentations, at least in some of these cases, were out of intentional dishonesty or lack of understanding of the laws or bills in question. The results were the same – misrepresenting the law to others.

Following that tradition, in two posts addressing a newly proposed bill in Colorado, the anti-vaccine page Hear This Well misrepresented the new bill, sometimes just by using hyperbolic, misleading language and sometimes by making clearly incorrect statements.

Whether this was due to misunderstanding of the bill or intentional misrepresentation is impossible to tell, but at any rate, this could lead to people opposing the bill for incorrect reasons or because of misrepresentation. Continue reading ““Hear This Well” anti-vaccine group misrepresents Colorado legislation”

Forced vaccinations and public health law – Prof. Dorit Rubinstein Reiss

forced vaccinations

This article about forced vaccinations and public health law was written by Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco, CA), who is a frequent contributor to this and many other blogs, providing in-depth, and intellectually stimulating, articles about vaccines, medical issues, social policy, and the law.

Professor Reiss writes extensively in law journals about the social and legal policies of vaccination. Additionally, Reiss is also a member of the Parent Advisory Board of Voices for Vaccines, a parent-led organization that supports and advocates for on-time vaccination and the reduction of vaccine-preventable disease.

This is a response to an anti-vaccine myth about me regarding forced vaccinations. I want to clarify that I don’t support using force for routinely vaccinating, or generally, barring extreme circumstances, and never have.

Yes, I did point out that using force to vaccinate can be legal in some circumstances – that’s the law. I don’t think it should ever be a preferred method, but I do think that in extreme circumstances it can be used.

My general approach to fabricated anti-vaccine attacks is to ignore them or respond on the spot if they come up in a comment thread. Basically, making up negative things about people who challenge them is a routine tactic of the anti-vaccine movement, a feature, not a bug,  and honestly, if I spent time going after or responding to every… “creative” idea they come up with, I wouldn’t have time for more important things.

I have to hope most people realize that the anti-vaccine group makes up things about those who stand up to them, especially those who correct anti-vaccine claims when they come up.

But at the request of several pro-vaccine friends, I will address this one about “forced vaccinations.” Continue reading “Forced vaccinations and public health law – Prof. Dorit Rubinstein Reiss”

Facebook mass banning – reasonable response to anti-vaccine attacks

Facebook mass banning

This article about Facebook mass banning of individuals who engage in anti-vaccine attacks on Facebook was written by Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco, CA), who is a frequent contributor to this and many other blogs, providing in-depth, and intellectually stimulating, articles about vaccines, medical issues, social policy, and the law.

Professor Reiss writes extensively in law journals about the social and legal policies of vaccination. Additionally, Prof. Reiss is also a member of the Parent Advisory Board of Voices for Vaccines, a parent-led organization that supports and advocates for on-time vaccination and the reduction of vaccine-preventable disease.

This article will discuss the tactics of the anti-vaccine activists and how we can respond to it, including Facebook mass banning.
Continue reading “Facebook mass banning – reasonable response to anti-vaccine attacks”