The title of this post should be in past tense, because I finished Seth Mnookin's wonderful book, The Panic Virus, during my airport adventures. I recently blogged about meningitis in an unvaccinated child, and this book begins with a more serious version of this infection, epiglottitis.
This tome documents the anti-vaccine movement, from it's early days of cowpox through the present. Much will be familiar to those watching the news. Over the past few weeks, reports of the withdrawal of the Wakefield paper and the Kennedy Salon article detailed the bad science and conflict of interest that drove many parents to withhold their children's shots.
Mnookin weaves the compelling story, and I can do no better here. My observation regards the irony of the situation. The anti-vaccine folks claim that the government and big Pharma run a conspiracy that has duped us ( parents and doctors, I'm both, after all) into endangering our children for their profit. Instead, it would appear that the conspiracy drivers were Wakefield and some trial lawyers willing to put much of society, especially it's weakest members, at risk for profit.
None of this appears to budge the beliefs of the most fervent followers of the movement. I am glad that shoddy tainted science has been withdrawn from the official published record. Perhaps one day fact will triumph over fantasy. As someone who has seen children critically, even fatally, ill with preventable diseases, that is a day of which I dream.
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