Thursday, June 30, 2011

How safe are vaccines?

Two very readable articles on the vaccine issue from the popular press.

First, How Safe are Vaccines? - a 2008 article from Time magazine.

CDC officials estimate that fully vaccinating all U.S. children born in a given year from birth to adolescence saves 33,000 lives, prevents 14 million infections and saves $10 billion in medical costs. Part of the reason is that the vaccinations protect not only the kids who receive the shots but also those who can't receive them—such as newborns and cancer patients with suppressed immune systems. These vulnerable folks depend on riding the so-called herd-immunity effect. 

and secondly, An Epidemic of Fear: How Panicked Parents Skipping Shots Endangers Us All - an article from Wired magazine at the end of 2009.

“I used to say that the tide would turn when children started to die. Well, children have started to die,” Offit says, frowning as he ticks off recent fatal cases of meningitis in unvaccinated children in Pennsylvania and Minnesota. “So now I’ve changed it to ‘when enough children start to die.’ Because obviously, we’re not there yet.”

Note that the Wired article attracted 690 comments! I think I remember reading in a following issue that this story attracted more letters and comments than any other story they had ever run.

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