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Gary Evans writes Hospital Infection Control & Prevention (HIC), Hospital Employee Health (HEH) and contributes to IRB Advisor (IRB). As senior writer at AHC, Evans has written numerous articles on infectious disease threats to both patients and health care workers, including pandemic influenza, MERS and Ebola. He has been honored for excellence in analytical reporting five times by the National Press Club in Washington, DC.
As vaccine-preventable diseases continue to resurge and threaten both patients and healthcare workers, 23 million television viewers — an all-time record for CNN — recently heard reckless comments on vaccine safety by men who aspire to the highest office in the nation.
Three Republican presidential candidates — two of them physicians — made comments at the Sept. 16 GOP debate that either gave new life to the old lie that vaccines are linked to autism, or suggested that childhood shots are unsafe because too many are given at the same time.
The comments were immediately condemned by the medical community, with the American Academy of Pediatrics calling them both false and “dangerous.” Other rebuttals came from the highest levels of public health.
“Study after study has concluded that there is no risk [or connection] between vaccines and autism,” said Tom Frieden, MD, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “There is, though, a very serious problem of autism. The discussion of vaccines and autism unfortunately has, at times, interfered with our ability to study further what is causing autism so we can both prevent it better and provide better services to the children and families who have autism.”
In terms of the scheduling of childhood shots, Frieden said that is discussed and set in open meetings by the CDC’s Advisory Committees on Immunization Practices (ACIP).
“[ACIP] works in a completely transparent fashion,” Frieden said. “All of the meetings, all the documents are open to the public. There are individuals and entities represented on ACIP from all sectors of society, including patient groups. And this is not just the most effective way of setting vaccine policy. It’s a model for countries around the world. Because let’s be frank — for most vaccines, there are some people who think that there’s something bad about them. And there is hardly a vaccination program that’s been run in any country, anywhere in the world, ever, that hasn’t had some rumors circulating about it. The best disinfectant for rumors is transparency."
For more on this story see the November 2015 issue of Hospital Employee Health