Governor Christie’s Dangerous Double-Talk on Vaccines

By Keith Kloor | February 2, 2015 10:39 am

The Republican political strategy during the past six years has been simple and consistent: If Obama was for it, we had to be against it.

No cooperation meant no bipartisan photo ops.

The one guy who bucked that was New Jersey Governor Chris Christie during Hurricane Sandy in 2012, when the Governor praised President Obama for his “outstanding” and “wonderful” response in the storm’s aftermath. As the Washington Post reported at the time:

He [Christie] even told Fox News the president had done a “great job for New Jersey” while staying above the fray about politics: “I’ve got a job to do here in New Jersey that’s much bigger than presidential politics, and I could care less about any of that stuff. I have a job to do. I’ve got 2.4 million people out of power. I’ve got devastation on the Shore. I’ve got floods in the northern part of my state. If you think right now I give a damn about presidential politics, then you don’t know me.”

Fast forward to the present, as Christie mulls a potential run in next year’s presidential election. Over the weekend, President Obama weighed in on the recent measles outbreak making news, which the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) warns may grow wider. On Sunday, Obama said in an interview:

You should get your kids vaccinated. It’s good for them, but we should be able to get back to the point where measles effectively is not existing in this country.

He also said this:

I understand that there are families that, in some cases, are concerned about the effect of vaccinations. The science is, you know, pretty indisputable. We’ve looked at this again and again. There is every reason to get vaccinated, but there aren’t reasons to not.

What Obama is referring to here is the resistance of some parents to vaccines–the kind of resistance driven by misguided health concerns that you see expressed in this recent New York Times article. When Obama says there aren’t reasons to not vaccinate, he’s referring to those fears about side effects that have been amplified by anti-vaccine activists.

Enter Governor Christie, who is quoted today as saying:

there has to be a balance and it depends on what the vaccine is, what the disease type is, and all the rest. Not every vaccine is created equal and not every disease type is as great a public health threat as others.

Way to muddy the waters, Governor. If the measles outbreak spreads to New Jersey, will you continue with this kind of irresponsible double-talk? When it comes to important public health issues that are already roiled by urban myths and misinformation, it’s best not to talk out of both sides of your mouth.

UPDATE: Christie is getting hammered all over the internet. His office just tweeted a clarification:

Yeah, that should clear things up.

UPDATE: In fairness to Christie, political pandering to parental vaccine fears is a bipartisan activity–as Brendan Nyhan reminds us. [And as I found out later, the Obama angle of that storyline is incorrect]

UPDATE: Nyhan has published a really important NYT piece today: “Spreading along with measles: Polarization on a hot-button issue.”

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  • http://www.mazepath.com/uncleal/qz4.htm Uncle Al

    1) It is quick and trivial to identify the reservoir origin of a disease by its genome. This has Officially carefully not been done withe measles.

    2) It is a foundation of public health and epidemiology to report regional, social, racial, ethnic, and other clade statistics to know which populations are to be surrounded to control transmission, and vaccinated to end propagation. This has Officially carefully not been done withe measles.

    3) We thus know the country of origin and the propagating population – and why nothing will be done about it as weakly immune other populations are scythed.

    • hikarugenji

      News flash, uncle dear. The reservoir for measles is humanity. All of humanity. Measles doesn’t infect any animal species other than our own. Your comment makes, obviously, no sense whatever – and is racist in its implications.

      • http://www.mazepath.com/uncleal/qz4.htm Uncle Al

        http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2013/12/05/50-years-after-vaccine-creation-measles-still-threatens-us

        “Before 1990, most imported cases of measles to the United States came from Mexico, but in 2013, half of all the imported cases came from Europe, according to the CDC.”

        I was thinking of the European Central Bank embracing ZIRP and embezzling a few €trilliion as centrally let bonds. One does not call out a partner in 13-figure national swindles.

        racist in its implications” you misspelled “empirical.”

  • Eric

    Among the comments accompanying the NYTimes article you linked to was an appeal from a parent to scientists and public health officials not to completely sweep vaccine risks under the rug. Even if a parent accepts the message that the supposed vaccine-autism link has been debunked, they may fear an adverse reaction to the vaccine. Such a parent is not likely to trust you if your message completely ignores the fact that there is indeed a small risk of adverse side-effects or the fact that there is a small risk that a vaccine may not be 100% effective. While the responsible public health message is certainly that all kids should get vaccinated, I don’t think that many of the vaccine-averse parents are likely to be convinced without acknowledging that some of their fears may not be completely unfounded, even if their benefit/risk assessment is not rational. I think the main message these parents have been getting in the last couple of weeks is simply that they are dumb for not vaccinating their kids. That seems to me to be dumb messaging.

    • kkloor

      I agree with you and some smart science communicators have tried to make this point. See my post from last week about the media herd narrative on the measles outbreak.

      But in this case, I think Christie went well beyond nodding in a very vague manner to those legitimate but but outsized fears. I think he gives them oxygen.

  • mem_somerville

    Well, even if you don’t care about other people’s kids, I would think Republicans would care about the cost of this. There’s data about how much one outbreak costs in government public health efforts.

    • Buddy199

      http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/intersection/2011/04/27/more-polling-data-on-the-politics-of-vaccine-resistance/

      In a Pew poll that sought to differentiate between the views of scientists and average Americans of a variety of issues, people were asked whether childhood vaccines ought to be required, or if instead it should be left up to parental choice.

      What’s interesting here is that Pew provided a political breakdown of the results, and there was simply no difference between Democrats and Republicans. 71 % of members of both parties said childhood vaccinations should be required, while 26 % of Republicans and 27 % of Democrats said parents should decide. (Independents were slightly worse: 67 % said vaccinations should be required, while 30 % favored parental choice.)

      ———-

      Not one of your better comments, on several levels.

      .

      • Joshua

        So here’s how it works. There isn’t a lot inherent about these issues that makes them politically polarizing until something triggers identity orientation. That is why it is important for public health officials, and i would argue that Christie is one of them, to get out in front with responsible attitudes and not do things that will trigger politicization.

        Unless, of course, they’re tying to leverage public health issues for political expediency. (See Christie on Ebola, and now measles).

        • Buddy199

          Christie made the mistake of giving a smooth split the difference political answer to a question that, as a lawyer, he was unaware is scientifically settled, and has since corrected himself.

        • JaimeIslandGuy

          Joshua,it fascinating you are driven by anecdotes. Looking at the studies they show no right:left Republican:Democrat difference in anti science views or data rejection withing different left right political cultures.

          What is doubly fascinating is that your yourself, by relying on anecdotes you have politically filtered, are demonstrating this cultural cognition problem in your own thinking!

      • Joshua

        CAMBRIDGE, England — Medical experts reacted with alarm Monday as two top contenders for the Republican presidential nomination appeared to question whether child vaccinations should be mandatory — injecting politics into an emotional issue that has taken on new resonance with a recent outbreak of measles in the United States.

        http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/chris-christie-remarks-show-vaccines-potency-in-political-debate/2015/02/02/f1c49a6e-aaff-11e4-abe8-e1ef60ca26de_story.html?hpid=z1

        • Buddy199

          Christie has since backed off his mis-statement. Paul…you never know what that guy’s going to say. Either way, polls consistently show no link between anti-vax and political affiliation.

          • Joshua

            My point is not that there is an affiliation – but that prominent Republican politicians are trying to exploit distrust in science and fear about public health issues for political expediency.

            Check out this article: 2500 comments, a large % relate directly to politicization of the issues.

            http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/09/wealthy-la-schools-vaccination-rates-are-as-low-as-south-sudans/380252/#disqus_thread

          • JaimeIslandGuy

            Joshua,
            fascinating you are driven by anecdotes. Looking at the studies they show no right:left Republican:Democrat difference in anti science views or data rejection withing different left right political cultures.

            What is doubly fascinating is that your yourself, by relying on anecdotes you have politically filtered, are demonstrating this cultural cognition problem in your own thinking!

            And the Atlantic? They lost fact checking serious issues long ago. They give credulity to debunked anti science GMO paranoia, and have written 54 print and blog articles on gun control in two years without ever once mentioning the core metric, gun murder rates, which are down 54% in the past 20 years.

          • Joshua

            James –

            ==> “Looking at the studies they show no right:left Republican:Democrat
            difference in anti science views or data rejection withing different
            left right political cultures.”

            It depends on the study. Gauchat’s work shows an increased lack of “trust” in science among a subset of conservatives (those who are libertarian) as compared to most conservatives, and Dems and indies.

            Kahan offers an interesting critique of those data.

            My point is not that Republicans are “anti-science.” I don’t think that as a group they are compared to anyone else.

            But that doesn’t take away the rhetoric that we’re seeing from Republican politicians.

        • JaimeIslandGuy

          Joshua,
          fascinating you are driven by anecdotes. Looking at the studies they show no right:left Republican:Democrat difference in anti science views or data rejection withing different left right political cultures.

          What is doubly fascinating is that your yourself, by relying on anecdotes you have politically filtered, are demonstrating this cultural cognition problem in your own thinking!

      • mem_somerville

        Yeah, I’m one of the scientists that was polled.

        But my point is this: endorsing non-vaccination has community-wide consequences. It puts kids like my nephew at real risk (battled leukemia). Ok, no skin off Christie’s nose if he suffers, right? Kid lives in NH. Live free or die.

        But this outbreak will cost NJ money even if you don’t care about kids with leukemia.

        In addition to the time spent containing a measles outbreak, responding to them is expensive for state and local governments. A March 2014 study found that there were 16 measles outbreaks in 2011 that resulted in 107 cases, which cost local and state public health departments an estimated $2.7 million to $5.3 million.

        However, these outbreaks and their time and economic burdens are preventable. Every dollar spent on the child measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine saves $23.30, according to CDC.

        So being fiscally conservative, what is the call to make here?

        http://www.astho.org/Press-Room/Multistate-Measles-Outbreak-Drives-Up-State-Health-Agency-Costs-and-Points-to-Importance-of-Quality-Immunization-Communication/1-27-15/

        • Buddy199

          Maybe we need a vaccine against rhetorical straw men. No one is suggesting we save money by callously endangering children, a favorite political trope nowdays.

          As I answered below:

          “Christie made the mistake of giving a smooth split the difference political answer to a question that, as a lawyer, he was unaware is scientifically settled, and has since corrected himself.”

          • Joshua

            This is particularly beautiful!

            Paul attempted to clarify his comments in a statement Tuesday, saying ”I did not say vaccines caused disorders, just that they were temporally related, – I did not allege causation. I support vaccines, I receive them myself and I had all of my children vaccinated.”

            Right. He shouldn’t be misconstrued as implying that there was a causal relationship. He was only pointing out the “temporal” relationship.

            Hilarious.

          • JaimeIslandGuy

            Joshua, fascinating you are driven by anecdotes. Looking at the studies they show no right:left Republican:Democrat difference in anti science views or data rejection withing different left right political cultures.

            What is doubly fascinating is that your yourself, by relying on anecdotes you have politically filtered, are demonstrating this cultural cognition problem in your own thinking!

        • JH

          What did these public agencies do to stem the outbreak?

          • mem_somerville

            You can click through to the paper. It’s open access. They spend huge amounts of time tracing contacts and getting them treated or isolated.

            I don’t know if these groups did, but our local public health folks will also sometimes run vaccine clinics when something pops up. I’m part of the local Medical Reserve Corps, and this includes door-hangers for awareness of clinic times (which cost money for printing too), running these clinics with both admin and medical staff, processing insurance forms in some cases, etc.

            I don’t know if they count training time too, but we have regular training on different aspects of responses too.

          • Joshua

            Here’s a nice twist.

            Blame immigrants because people choose not to vaccinate their children:

            Ben Carson

            “These are things that we had under control. We have to account for the fact that we now have people coming into the country sometimes undocumented people who perhaps have diseases that we had under control,” he said. “So now we need to be doubly vigilant about making sure that we immunize them to keep them from getting diseases that once were under control.”

        • Joshua

          Let’s look around some more:

          On his show “The 700 Club,” Robertson argued that “all vaccines are not benign” and that “natural immunity is a pretty good thing, and if you have some of these diseases when you’re a kid you have immunity the rest of your life.”

          […]

          Warning his viewers not to “fall for these nostrums,” he continued: “You know, you have to put fluoride in all the water because it will cut down on cavities. But what does fluoride do to people? We don’t know some of the consequences, that’s all I’m saying. We don’t have all the knowledge we need and we should be very careful not to force people to do stuff that they earnestly feel they shouldn’t do.”

          Robertson added he wasn’t against vaccines in general but had doubts about government mandates.

        • Joshua

          Another leading Republican figure weights in.

          Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) on Tuesday said he believes children should be vaccinated, but he said he supports exemptions for people with certain religious beliefs.

          Cruz said that there is “widespread agreement” that children should be vaccinated, but he added that states should be in charge of deciding whether vaccines are mandatory, according to Politico. He also said that states should consider exceptions for those with “good faith, religious convictions.”

        • Joshua

          And in a directly related area:

          He might have won the most expensive legislative campaign in US history, but that doesn’t mean he should manage your local Arby’s.

          Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) said Monday that he’s okay with the idea of service industry workers returning to work without washing their hands after touching their unmentionables, as long as customers are made aware of the situation.

          Tillis made the declaration at to the Bipartisan Policy Center, at the end of a question and answer with the audience. He was relaying a 2010 anecdote about his “bias when it comes to regulatory reform.”

          “I was having a discussion with someone, and we were at a Starbucks in my district, and we were talking about certain regulations where I felt like ‘maybe you should allow businesses to opt out,’” he said, “as long as they indicate through proper disclosure, through advertising, through employment literature, or whatever else.”

  • Tom Scharf

    I had measles. I had chicken pox. The only known long term affects in my case were the massive brain damage that occurred to make me oppose Obama’s policies simply because he was Obama and not because they didn’t align with my values.

    Good to see that critical thinking is alive and well in these lectures on science. When you lead with this “wisdom”, your more important message gets lost.

    • Buddy199

      Your childhood maladies obviously turned you into a racist as well, how else to explain your opposition.

      • Viva La Evolucion

        Speaking of race, I read somewhere that the only statistically significant increase in autism among MMR recipients, was in black boys who received their first MMR before 2 years of age. Does anyone know where to find the actual data about that, because I find it hard to believe the CDC website would not mention that if it were true?

        • Chris Preston

          It was in a paper by Brian Hooker that was retracted by the journal it was published in for incorrect statistical treatment and undeclared conflicts of interest on the part of the author.

          http://www.translationalneurodegeneration.com/content/3/1/22

          • Viva La Evolucion

            Thanks, yes I had found that same page, but I was looking for the actual numbers from the study as I am curious what percentage of black boys get autism after receiving MMR before 2 years of age vs percentage from other races.

          • Mike Stevens

            The link to the study is at the bottom.
            This is probably the relevant bit:
            http://www.translationalneurodegeneration.com/content/3/1/16/table/T4
            As you can see, there were so few affected (less than 5 individuals) that in order to torture the statistics to “work”, Hooker had to lower the age cut off to 31 months rather than the study’s intended 36 month cut off, just to get sufficient numbers to put into the stats analysis.

            Hooker has admitted he is statistically naive, and I think sections like this ar part of the reason his study was deemed unsound and withdrawn.

          • Viva La Evolucion

            Thanks, that is what I was looking for, but I would was hoping to see actual number of people in study. I agree that he tortured the statistics using the 31 month age cut off, but the results still do suggest that the vaccine may have small effect on autism rate, although not enough so to justify not getting vaccinated.

            Here is something to think about…Parents who buy their teens a car for 16th birthday are exposing their child to greater risk of death then Parents who do not vaccinate their children against Measles, and they are also exposing others to risk of being killed by their inexperienced teen driver kids :-)

          • Mike Stevens

            The difference in risk that existed for the African American children disappeared when appropriate statistical analysis (conditional logistic regression if I recall) was applied to the data sets.
            Hooker used simple chisquare test with Fisher’s exact test applied because of small group numbers. Laughable, really.
            Maybe the original De Stefano study gives the data to see, I don’t have a link to a full text version.

            Analogy appropriate, as would be many other risks kids get exposed to frequently.

      • Mike Stevens

        I think that bit was sarcasm.

  • realheadline

    Yeah, Christie is a progressive nut-job. He also believes the apocalyptic climate change fairy-tale as well. That’s why he’ll never be the Republican nominee for President.

    • Buddy199

      Republicans were also skeptical about the fairy tale of being able to keep their health insurance plan if they liked it, period. Nut-jobs.

  • Buddy199

    Although I usually would side with a more libertarian solution, the recent outbreak has me thinking otherwise. Parents should have the right to feed their kids GMO-free food, home school them or give them organic mustard plasters if they want. They don’t have the right to refuse to educate their children at all, put them on a starvation vegan diet or deny them insulin because they believe diabetes is caused by evil spirits. Not vaccinating affects not just their own child but all children their child comes in contact with. In the case of such an obvious, serious epidemiological threat legal mandate based on medical science has to take precedence over ill-informed parenting.

    • Joshua

      Interesting that you see an inherent conflict between “libertarian solutions” and basic principles of evidence-based public health policies that are backed by solid science.

      • Tom Scharf

        Libertarians don’t like to be told what to do, they like to be convinced what is right and then do the right thing. Government mandates on toilets and light bulbs are examples of things that don’t need to be regulated in this view.

        Vaccines are likely on the regulate list even for libertarians because your personal choice can endanger others. They understand this. I don’t think there is any libertarian tilt to this issue I am aware of.

        Evidence-based public health policies would also shut down every McDonald’s and confiscate the Big Gulp machine at 7-11. People draw the line in different places.

        • Joshua

          I can recall only one libertarian that voiced any concern about excessive government restrictions on freedom to travel and the interference of government in the free market sector of the airline industry when a bevy of libertarian-friendly Republican politicians when overboard during the recent Ebola “outbreak” in the U.S. to advocate policies that were in direct contradiction to the evidence-based recommendations of scientists.

          Ron Paul, to his credit, acknowledged that the whole mess was exploitation of stoked public fears for the sake of political expediency, notably in contrast to the views of his libertarian icon son.

          “I don’t think it’s draconian,” Christie, appearing on the Today show, said of New Jersey’s mandatory 21-day quarantine on health care workers returning from Liberia, Sierra Leone, or Guinea. “The members of the American public believe it is common sense, and we are not moving an inch. Our policy hasn’t changed and our policy will not change.

          Nurse Kaci Hickox was discharged and allowed to go home to Maine Monday after being held in isolation for three days at University Hospital in Newark over protests from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), members of the Obama administration, and her lawyer. “Governors ultimately have the responsibility to protect the public health and public safety,” Christie said, noting that when Hickox tested negative she was sent home.

          Compare and contrast:

          “That’s the best expression I can give you of my opinion. It’s much more important I think what you think as a parent than what you think as a public official,” said Christie, who is on a trade mission to the United Kingdom.

          “But I also understand that parents need to have some measure of choice in things as well,” Christie said. “So that’s the balance that the government has to decide.”

          The only thing that is consistent is that in both cases, he is siding against evidence-based public health policy that is informed by science.

          • Buddy199

            The Obama Administration’s ebola policy was driven primarily by racial identity politics, not rational precaution in the face of a potentially extremely serious and unprecedented public health threat.

          • Joshua

            …”The Obama Administration’s ebola policy was driven primarily by racial identity politics,…”

            Lol!

            Right. Following the guidelines of the CDC, MSF, etc. is clearly about racial identity politics.

            Much better we should follow the guidelines of evidence-based science, as promoted by Rand Paul, Chris Christie, and Louie Gohmert:

            Political correctness … is getting
            military members killed. This is the heart of the problem, political correctness, and by the way, the same kind of idea would send 3,000 military into where they can get Ebola that they can bring back. The military’s not trained to go catch Ebola and die. They’re trained to go
            in and kill the people that want to come back and kil us. The president’s priorities are all mixed up.

          • Buddy199

            The recent spread of ebola to the U.S. was unprecedented. No one had any idea of how the situation could develop long term, considering the virulence of the disease and huge number of scientific unknowns – starting with the Administration’s initial assurance that the virus would not spread to the U.S.

            With a potentially enoumous public health threat involved, it was completely reasonable to err on the side of caution and restrict entry into the U.S. of people who had transited through the ebola zone within the 21-day incubation period, at least until we developed more experience dealing with this completely unprecedented situation.

            Not doing so was a crap shoot, as much as allowing patents to waive vaccinations for measles, hoping for the best. The Obama ebola policy wasn’t based on medical precaution in the face of this unprecedented situation, it was centered around not wanting to appear “racist” by restricting travel to and from Africa.

          • Joshua

            ==> “With a potentially enormous public health threat involved,..”

            The only significant public health threat posed by the isolated cases of Ebola in the U.S. was from the politically expedient sloganeering by cynical politicians trying to exploit fear by drumming up hatred towards the public health policy community.

            So long standing policies, based on scientific research on addressing infectious diseases, and practical experience on the ground dealing with the specific infectious disease at hand, morphs into policies only based on not trying to appear racist?

            I guess you figured that out from Gohrmert?

            Hilarious.

    • Joshua

      Rand Paul on measles:

      “The state doesn’t own your children,” Paul said in an interview with CNBC’s “Closing Bell.” “Parents own the children, and it is an issue of freedom and public health.”

      […]

      Paul also acknowledged hearing about cases in which healthy kids were left with “profound mental disorders” after being vaccinated.

      Rand Paul on Ebola:

      With millions of Americans already worried about the Ebola virus, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, fanned the flames by suggesting that the risk of infection is greater than global medical authorities say — and that the Obama administration is misleading the public about it.

      In footage from CNN of his speech at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire, the prospective GOP presidential candidate called Ebola “incredibly contagious,” and told the crowd that the virus can be spread to another person standing three feet away. He also said he believes the White House is withholding this information.

      “If someone has Ebola at a cocktail party they’re contagious and you can catch it from them,” said Paul. “[The administration] should be honest about that.”

      Rand Paul on Quarantines:

      WASHINGTON — Republican Sen. Rand Paul is unsure if the mandatory, Ebola-related quarantines in New Jersey and New York qualify as lawful imprisonment, he told BuzzFeed News on Thursday.

      “I think it’s a complicated issue,” Paul said. While the states think they have the right to quarantine returning Ebola health workers, “is there a conflict between state and federal law?”

      “One of the primary freedoms we’ve had in our country” is “habeas corpus, the right of legal petition as to why you’re being held,” he said. “It’s unclear or not that is honored in these situations.”

    • Joshua

      More Paul on measles:

      –snip–

      Washington (CNN)Sen. Rand Paul raised eyebrows on Monday with a combative interview with a female reporter and controversial comments defending his insistence on voluntary vaccinations.

      During the interview, with CNBC’s Kelly Evans, Paul yawns, interrupts Evans and at one point motions for her to be quiet with a finger to his lips.

      He also reproaches her for a “slanted” interview that he says “got no useful information because you were argumentative, and you started out with so many preoppositions [sic] that were incorrect.”

      RELATED: Paul, Christie show support for voluntary vaccines

      Paul, who is an ophthalmologist, also asserts that he’s heard of cases where vaccines have caused “profound mental disorders.”

      “I’ve heard of many tragic cases of walking, talking, normal children who wound up with profound mental disorders after vaccines,” Paul said. “I’m not arguing vaccines are a bad idea. I think they’re a good thing. But I think the parents should have some input.”

      Asked for evidence of those claims, Paul campaign spokesman Sergio Gor didn’t address them and instead said that while Paul largely supports vaccines, “many” should be voluntary.

      –snip–

  • Joshua

    Christie used the same tactic of exploiting public health policy for the sake of political expediency with the whole Ebola scare a few months ago.

    Nothing new to see here folks.

    • Joshua

      Maybe next he will start exploiting HPV vaccinations for the sake of political expediency.

      What other sensationalist issues can he use as easily for establishing his “conservative” bona fides? After all, he has to move to the right, and fast, if he’s going to have a shot at the Republican nomination.

      • Buddy199

        Like Hillary has to do the occasional ham-handed Liz Warren impersonation to at least try to keep the far left somewhat interested?

      • JaimeIslandGuy

        HPV is different. The prime argument is about age of administration. There are adverse reactions to vaccines, and adverse events correlate inversely to age.

        Adverse fatal events are statistically trivial, but so are school shootings which seem to drive most people’s views on gun control

  • Viva La Evolucion

    I think that Measles vaccine should be required for child to enter public school, but I don’t think that it should be required to live in America, since Measles is not that deadly or debilitating of disease (it only kills 1-2 out of 1,000 people who get it). I can live with those odds. Also, I think that vaccine manufacturers should offer more mercury-free vaccines in effort to increase vaccination rates in children with parents who are concerned about mercury in vaccines. And, the fact that there were several vaccinate people who got measles in latest outbreak will hopefully increase awareness of need for measles booster shoot, and also creation of more effective single dose vaccine.

    • Chris Preston

      it only kills 1-2 out of 1,000 people who get it). I can live with those odds.

      You can live with those odds? OK for you then, but what about people who can’t get vaccinated, because they are undergoing treatment for childhood leukemia for example?

      I think this is an appalling attitude when there is a cheap, effective and relatively safe way to ensure that no-one dies from measles.

      Also, I think that vaccine manufacturers should offer more mercury-free vaccines in effort to increase vaccination rates in children with parents who are concerned about mercury in vaccines.

      They already do. http://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/Concerns/thimerosal/thimerosal_faqs.html#e

      • Viva La Evolucion

        There are a million things that can kill a child leukemia patient, but unfortunately one can not expect the world to be transformed into a sterilized sanctuary to accommodate the relatively small percentage of humans who are child leukemia patients. Child leukemia patients represent roughly the same percentage of human population as those who have serious life threatening adverse reactions to MMR vaccine. I am 100% pro vaccine, and share your disgust for parents who do not vaccinate their children, but I think everyone is overreacting on measles a bit. I realize measles is very contagious, but the fact is it only kills 1-2 people out of 1,000 people who get it. Please let that sink in a bit. That is comparable with the flu, NOT ebola. Let’s say that In the future a virus comes on the scene that is both as contagious as measles and as deadly as ebola, THEN I would expect to hear the same level of hysteria as I am hearing right now from some. So, please chill. And in regards to mercury-free vaccines, I realize there are a few available, but I would like to see them more readily available, and ultimately see mercury phased out altogether, provided that it is replaced with less toxic equally effective alternative.

        • lilady R.N.

          See my comment above yours about the removal of Thimerosal from every childhood vaccine and the availability (70 %), of seasonal influenza which do not contain Thimerosal.

          “Child leukemia patients represent roughly the same percentage of human
          population as those who have serious life threatening adverse reactions
          to MMR vaccine.”

          [citation desperately needed for that statement…from a first tier peer- reviewed medical journal]

          • seniorcraig

            You fail to mention aluminum in vaccines. It too is a neurotoxin. And what about the formaldehyde, polysorbate, degradation products, DNA from other species? Only a person with half a brain would believe that injecting this muck into a body improves health.

            What, exactly, a “first tier peer-reviewed medical journal”? Have you not read anything at all about fraud in science? You should.

          • lilady R.N.

            How about you provide some information from first tier, peer-reviewed journal to refute these explanations about the ingredients in vaccines?

            http://vec.chop.edu/export/download/pdfs/articles/vaccine-education-center/vaccine-ingredients.pdf

          • seniorcraig

            What exactly is a first tier, peer-reviewed journal? This is another of your mantras and just as ridiculous as your others. “Has been thoroughly debunked” for example. And, of course, “anti-vaccine, anti-science crank website”. You really should change your record.

            And you really think Paul Offit’s outfit is believable? If this is the level of your “research”, no wonder you get so much wrong.

          • seniorcraig

            Oh, by the way, here is the link to all States requirements for renewal of licence. http://www.nursingcenter.com/lnc/journalarticle?Article_ID=636579
            What continuing education have you done in order to use the title RN? How many practice hours have you performed?

          • http://beginingsinwriting.wordpress.com/ R.w. Foster

            Say it with me: “La dosis hace el veneno,” “La dose fait le poison,” “Jìliàng shǐ dúyào,” “Doza delayet yad.”

            “The Dose Makes the Poison” in Spanish, French, Chinese, and Russian.

          • seniorcraig
          • http://beginingsinwriting.wordpress.com/ R.w. Foster

            You are aware that aluminum salts are different than elemental aluminum, right? And that you get more aluminum from breast milk than all the vaccines you get combined?

            Once more, from the top: “Doza delayet yad,” “Jìliàng shǐ dúyào,” “La dose fait le poison,” “Doza čini otrov,” “A dose que fai o veleno,” “Potionis venenum.” Just for grins, I added Galic, Serbian, and Latin.

    • lilady R.N.

      Adults who are not employed in hospitals and who are not health care providers are NOT required to have MMR vaccine or any other vaccine.

      You can live with the fact that babies too young (under age one) to have received the 2-dose series of MMR II vaccine, children and adults who have valid medical contraindications (immune compromised/immune suppressed), against receiving MMR II vaccines are put at great risk when exposed to a deliberately non vaccinated child? How cruel and ignorant are you?

      “Also, I think that vaccine manufacturers should offer more mercury-free vaccines in effort to increase vaccination rates in children with parents who are concerned about mercury in vaccines.”

      There is no Thimerosal in MMR II vaccine…not now…not ever. Thimerosal was removed from every childhood vaccine 15 years ago; every vaccine on the Recommended Childhood Vaccine Schedule is now packaged in single dose vials or single dose preloaded syringes and ~ 70 % of seasonal influenza vaccines are available in those single doses vials or preloaded single dose syringes.

      “And the fact that there were several vaccinate people who got measles in latest outbreak will hopefully increase awareness of need for measles booster shoot [sic] and also creation of more effective single dose vaccine.”

      The first of the single dose MMR II vaccine confers immunity to 95 % of vaccine recipients. The second dose of MMR II vaccine confers immunity to 99 % of vaccine recipients…there’s no need to “boost immunity” with a third vaccine.

      (Immunology 101, Virology 101 and Epidemiology 101)

  • JH

    Vaxageddon is here! Run for your lives!!!

  • Jeffn

    The attempt to make this partisan and, inexplicably a GOP, issue is amusing for it’s gross disingenuousness.
    Seriously, Keith, you’ve been writing on this issue for quite a while, including the issues that pop up in liberal enclave after liberal enclave and the non-sense that gets reported in liberal pubs and within progressive circles.
    You know the new theme that anti-vaxxers are a GOP issue is bunk. Why are you spreading it?

    • Jeffn

      Based on the positions of several Democrats, such as Joe Manchin, it would be fair to rewrite that NY Times lede to this, right:

      WASHINGTON — The politics of morality and free will have collided in an emotional debate over global warming and the government’s place in regulating it, posing a challenge for Democrats who find themselves in the familiar but uncomfortable position of reconciling action with the skepticism of their core progressive voters.

  • JH

    Here’s an interesting story about vaccines in the Land of Liberals:

    http://blogs.seattletimes.com/fyi-guy/2015/02/04/vaccine-exemptions-exceed-10-at-dozens-of-seattle-area-schools/

    Seattle is in King County. In 2010, King County alone carried Washington’s Senator Patty Murray to a state-wide victory. King County is about as liberal as a county can get.

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Collide-a-Scape

Collide-a-Scape is an archived Discover blog. Keep up with Keith's current work at http://www.keithkloor.com/

About Keith Kloor

Keith Kloor is a NYC-based journalist, and an adjunct professor of journalism at New York University. His work has appeared in Slate, Science, Discover, and the Washington Post magazine, among other outlets. From 2000 to 2008, he was a senior editor at Audubon Magazine. In 2008-2009, he was a Fellow at the University of Colorado’s Center for Environmental Journalism, in Boulder, where he studied how a changing environment (including climate change) influenced prehistoric societies in the U.S. Southwest. He covers a wide range of topics, from conservation biology and biotechnology to urban planning and archaeology.

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