Irrational anti-vaccine anger – we keep seeing this offensive behavior

anti-vaccine anger

Recently, I called the anti-vaccine mob a religion, because it shows many signs of being a religion from faith-based beliefs to a “clergy” that proselytizes about the evils of vaccines. And we can observe the same level of hatred pushed by some extremist religions in the irrational anti-vaccine anger, racism, and physical threats. It can be scary.

Many of us have observed this hatred in person, on social media, and in threatening emails. Dorit Rubinstein Reiss,  Professor of Law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco, CA), who writes frequently on this website about issues regarding vaccine public policy and laws, is a frequent target of vile personal attacks. Many of those attacks are overtly sexist, racist, and anti-Semitic. It is a disgusting display of anti-vaccine anger and hate speech. The anti-vaccine religion should be ashamed, but as far as I can tell, they have no shame.

If you paid any attention whatsoever to the efforts to pass California’s SB277 in 2015, which requires parents to vaccinate children before they can enroll in public or private schools (except for valid medical exemptions), you would know that the law was led by California State Senator, Dr. Richard Pan. During the process, and long after the bill was passed and signed into law, Senator Pan has been subject to physical threats and withering personal attacks, which included reprehensible and immoral racist-tinged attacks on his ethnic heritage. If anything shows off anti-vaccine anger and racism, this does. Continue reading “Irrational anti-vaccine anger – we keep seeing this offensive behavior”

Why we vaccinate–mandatory flu vaccines reduce risk of hospitalization

flu-shot-smiley-face

Updated 28 November 2014.

According to the unsurprising results reported in a new study, published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, in areas where laws mandate that children receive a seasonal flu vaccination, before entering preschool or day care, the rate of flu-related hospitalizations drops significantly. In this study, after Connecticut enacted a law that mandated the vaccine, the rate of children requiring hospitalization because of the flu declined by 12%.

Connecticut’s regulation for flu vaccination (pdf), which took effect in 2010, increased the uptake of childhood flu vaccinations from 67.8% to 84.1%. According to Dr. James Hadler, the lead researcher for the study, “That difference, we feel, has resulted in children attending daycare being better protected against influenza and its severe complications.”

Even though Connecticut’s regulations for flu vaccination allows for some exemptions (the child has a scheduled appoint for the shot soon after the start of school, medical contraindication, or religious belief), it’s obvious that the effort was highly successful in driving up the level of uptake of the flu vaccination, a vaccine that is often ignored by parents for occasionally odd reasons. Continue reading “Why we vaccinate–mandatory flu vaccines reduce risk of hospitalization”

Health Care Workers, Flu Vaccines, and Work Place Discrimination

In a previous post, I described a New Jersey Court of Appeals case in which Ms. Valent was denied unemployment benefits because she refused flu vaccines without claiming the religious exemption. I explained that the hospital was not constitutionally required to provide a religious exemption, and that doing so was a losing proposition from a hospital’s point of view.

In the comments following that post, it was correctly pointed out to me that there is another claim I should have addressed: a claim that the hospital was required to provide a religious exemption under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This did not come up in the case itself: the court reinstated the nurse’s unemployment benefits on constitutional grounds, though problematic constitutional grounds. But since I argue that hospitals should not offer a religious exemption, I need to address whether the hospital is required, under Title VII, to offer an accommodation.  Continue reading “Health Care Workers, Flu Vaccines, and Work Place Discrimination”

No faith – healthcare workers, vaccines and religion

June Valent started working for Hackettstown Community Hospital, New Jersey, in 2009. In 2010, the hospital adopted a policy requiring workers to be vaccinated against influenza, unless “there [was] a documented medical or religious exemption. For those with an exemption, a declination form must be signed and accompanied with an appropriate note each year.” An employee claiming a religious exemption just has to sign a form and bring a note from a religious leader. Employees using an exemption were required to wear a mask.

To her credit, Ms. Valent was unwilling to pretend her reasons for refusing the vaccine were religious. Less to her credit, she refused to be vaccinated, even though she had no medical reason, and vaccinating would reduce her chances of contracting influenza and transmitting it to her vulnerable patients. She did agree to wear a facemask, as any vaccine exempt worker would.

The hospital fired Ms. Valent for violating the policy. The issue under consideration was whether she was entitled to unemployment benefits. Under New Jersey law, an employer may deny unemployment benefits if the employee engaged in misconduct, which includes violating a reasonable rule of the employer. After somewhat complex proceedings, the Appeal Tribunal of the Board Of Review of the Department Of Labor decided to deny her the benefits because the employer’s requirements were “not unreasonable.” Continue reading “No faith – healthcare workers, vaccines and religion”

Repeated contact with mumps may overwhelm immunization

A recent study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, concluded that after an intense face-to-face educational technique, used among Orthodox Jews, apparently led to an outbreak of mumps in 2009 and 2010, despite high vaccination rates in the group. In a one-year period, from June 28, 2009, through June 27, 2010, 3,502 cases of mumps were reported in New Jersey, New York City and New York’s Orange and Rockland counties. The study examined 1,648 of those cases, 97% were Orthodox Jews, and found 89% had received two doses of the vaccine and 8% received one dose, a relatively high rate of vaccination.

Many of the individuals attended a religious school where they practiced an intense training technique called chavruta, which involves close contact with a partner across a narrow table. Partners change frequently, and he discussion is often loud and may involve shouting since a larger group may be close to each other, all trying to make an argument or point. This prolonged contact overwhelmed the immunity, from the mumps vaccination (part of the MMR vaccine), for individuals. The study did find high rates of two-dose coverage reduced the severity of the disease and the transmission to people in settings of less exposure. Also, the study found that mumps did not spread outside of the Orthodox Jewish community in the area, further supporting the overall effectiveness of the mumps vaccine in the broader community. Continue reading “Repeated contact with mumps may overwhelm immunization”

8 Hunterdon county children diagnosed with whooping cough were behind on vaccines

8 Hunterdon county children diagnosed with whooping cough were behind on vaccines | NJ.com.

So here are more children that should have been vaccinated against a disease that is preventable by a simple vaccination.  It’s just so frustrating.

Oh, one more thing.  There isn’t much evidence that the vaccine is ineffective against new strains of pertussis.  It’s annoying that the writers of this article weren’t better trained in scientific journalism, so that they could ask questions about the efficacy of the vaccine from valid sources of information, instead of one of the vaccine denialists whose information is based on rumor and anecdote.