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Are Doctors’ Vaccine Recommendations Motivated By Profits?

October 22, 2014 57 comments

DrZibnersThis guest post has been written by Dr. Lara  Zibners, in response to comments we’ve received on our Vaccinate Your Baby Facebook page.

“How can I trust the vaccine recommendations that I get from my doctor?  After all, isn’t she the one making money off all of these shots?”

Have you ever heard this concern or something like it? How many parents do you know who are leery of a doctor’s vaccine recommendations because they think the doctor is simply motivated by profits?

MoneyThe idea that pediatricians are colluding in some giant immunization scam that is designed to fund their fancy vacation homes and expensive watches is a concern for some.  But could it be true? Does your pediatrician look at your child, pinch those pudgy thighs and inject vaccines against life-threatening illnesses while dreaming of a new car?  It’s a pretty disgusting thought, isn’t it? The idea that your child’s doctor could have a financial incentive to encourage vaccination is an upsetting one. One that would understandably get your panties in a twist, right?

Well, my friends, relax. You can unwind your knickers because it’s simply not true.

Now, let me start by telling you that this is not a discussion of physician salaries as a whole. (Although I will point out that pediatricians are the 2nd lowest ranking physicians by salary in the United States.) Or whether they deserve a salary that averages in the low six figures. (Even though that’s after the usual investment of 40,000 hours of training and $300,000 in expenses). We’re not going into those topics today but instead we’re going to focus on one specific question: do pediatricians make money from immunizations?

And the answer is “No.” Despite what some people think, vaccines aren’t the cash cow everyone seems to think they are.

It’s estimated that it takes 35 office visits and costs around $2500 to fully vaccinate a child through age 18. But providing immunizations goes beyond just providing the vaccine. There are plenty of additional costs. These include direct costs such as vaccine purchase, storage, staff time to handle, oversee and administer the vaccine, as well as indirect costs such as insurance against vaccine loss. Read more…

Which Do People Fear More? The Flu or Flu Vaccine

October 16, 2014 190 comments

CDC Flu Ambassador Badge FINAL 2014-2015Yesterday was the day I had been anxiously anticipating for well over a month.  I took my kids to the local senior center to get our flu shots at the county flu vaccination clinic.

While most Americans are worrying themselves sick over Ebola, I’m more concerned about the greater risk of influenza.  See, I’m no stranger to the fact that thousands of people die from iFlunfluenza each year. In fact, I’ve already read about several flu deaths being reported this season, to include a person from South Carolina and a child from North Carolina in just the past week though these deaths won’t get the media attention Ebola does.  And while the flu may not be widespread in my local area at this particular moment, it’s just a matter of time.  The flu arrives every year like a tornado on the midwestern plains.  Sometimes you get a little bit of a warning, but regardless of whether you see it coming, it inevitably hits towns, schools and workplaces, hurting and even in some cases killing those who are not protected from its wrath.

Unfortunately, because I’ve had a child diagnosed with H1N1, met parents who have lost their children, know friends who have lost their neighbors, and have personally known a previously healthy individual who succumbed to influenza in his early 30s, I have a healthy fear of the flu (no pun intended).  Yet, it never ceases to amaze me that reasonable and otherwise intelligent people continue to reject flu vaccinations because they are swayed by unfounded myths or the sting of a needle.

Yesterday I realized that while my children understand the importance of flu vaccination, many adults around them still do not.

Here are a few of the surprising things I heard in just one hour of the day:   Read more…

NOVA Film “Vaccines-Calling the Shots” Opens the Door for Dialogue

September 11, 2014 310 comments

After viewing the PBS NOVA film “Vaccines – Calling the Shots”, I began wondering what the film’s impact would be.  I’ll admit that the film was very ambitious.  It addressed the science behind vaccines, why they work, how they work & even touched upon how people assess risk and decide whether to vaccinate or not.  All this in less than an hour.

Of course, no one should expect this film to be the one defining piece that will convince people to vaccinate.  Certainly it may reinforce the decision of those who already choose to vaccinate.  And it may give pause to those who would otherwise refrain from vaccinating.  But most importantly, this film is a valuable tool to help educate people about the science behind vaccines, inform the public about the importance of herd immunity and the dangers of not vaccinating, and open the door for civil dialogue about common vaccine safety concerns.

Looking back on the tweets I sent during the premiere, I realized that the film touched upon some of the most important immunization related issues I hear from parents day after day.   My goal now is to encourage as many people as possible to see this film (available online) and to use it as a way to encourage further conversation.

Of course, the film began with the usual caveats:

In the US more than 90% of parents vaccinate & most follow the recommended schedule.

Vaccine history may repeat itself. @PaulOffit explains “If you start to decrease vaccination rates you start to see the diseases reemerge.”

NOVAMeasles

 

In order to appreciate the value of vaccines, the film began by addressing the recent resurgence of diseases like pertussis (whooping cough) and measles.  It explained the infectious nature of these diseases, illustrated how epidemics are tracked and spread, and allowed viewers to see a tearful mother watching her infant child laying in a hospital bed and battling violent coughing fits brought on by an incurable disease known as pertussis. Read more…

Countdown to “Vaccines – Calling the Shots” on PBS

September 2, 2014 8 comments

PBSCallingTheShotsAnother great vaccine documentary is set to air this month.  That’s right!  Mark your calendars and set your DVRs!

Vaccines – Calling the Shots will premiere on PBS NOVA on Wednesday, September 10th. Due to anticipated coverage of President Obama’s address to the nation at 9pm (EST) and 8pm (CT), the film will air immediately following coverage of the President at approximately 9:20pm (EST) and 8:20 pm (CT).

 

Vaccines – Calling the Shots” is a special production which examines the science behind vaccinations and takes viewers around the world to track epidemics.   The film explains why diseases, which were largely eradicated a generation ago, are returning to the United States.  It also explores the risks and consequences of opting out of vaccines, and identifies parents who are wrestling with vaccine-related questions.

This brief preview provides a glimpse of what this new documentary is all about:

Help Generate Awareness About this New Documentary

Vaccine hesitancy and refusal is often rooted in the proliferation of immunization misinformation.  However, educational films like Vaccines- Calling the Shots” can help separate facts from fears.  Therefore, we ask for your support and participation in getting the word out about this film.  Not only will you be helping to combat misinformation, but you will help others to understand and appreciate the science behind immunizations.

Alert your friends, family and colleagues about the date and time of the upcoming premiere via social media.

Share this blog post, the 3-minute preview seen above, or the direct link to the PBS NOVA page to encourage others to discuss the value of vaccines and the science of immunization.  Ask them to mark their calendars for the preview and to participate in the conversations surrounding the premiere.   

Follow live tweets during the broadcast on September 10th and retweet them to your followers.

Featured experts from the film will be live tweeting.  These include:

  • Infectious disease expert, Dr. Paul Offit (@DrPaulOffit), leading pediatrician and chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases and Director of the Vaccine Education Center at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
  • Alison Singer (@AlisonSinger), Co-Founder and President of the Autism Science Foundation( @AutismSciFounda), member of the national Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC), chair of the International Society for Autism Research public relations committee, and mother of a child with autism
  • Writer, director, producer & co-executive producer, Sonya Pemberton (@pembertonfilms) who, as the Creative Director of Genepool Productions of Melbourne and Sydney, Australia spent  four years researching and producing an Australian version and now the American version of this film
  • NOVA series executive producer, Paula Apsell (@mamaNOVA)

In addition to these experts, everyone who has an interest in preventable diseases is invited to add to the commentary by live tweeting during the premier and including the hashtag #vaccinesNOVA.  We would even like to encourage people to promote the preview ahead of time via Twitter with these sample Tweets:

Examine immunization, track outbreaks & learn more about vaccinations w/ #vaccinesNOVA, Wed., Sept 10 at 9:20 EST on @PBShttp://to.pbs.org/YWNjcY

Why are diseases that were largely eradicated a generation ago returning? Find out w/ #vaccinesNOVA, Sept 10 at 9:20 EST http://to.pbs.org/1ryEAuw

If you would like an email reminder of the airing of this preview, be sure to sign up on the Vaccinate Your Baby “Get Involved” page here.

Follow @ShotofPrev on Twitter:  https://twitter.com/ShotofPrev
Follow Vaccinate Your Baby on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/VaccinateYourBaby
Follow NOVA on Twitter: https://twitter.com/novapbs
Like NOVA on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/NOVAonline

Invisible Threat Film Helps Teens Appreciate Science Behind Vaccines

August 20, 2014 1 comment

NIAM14_CollegeAgeA child’s immunization status is largely determined by their parents.  However, as children mature into teens and young adults it’s important that they gain a personal appreciation for the value of vaccines.  If they’re going to be equipped to make their own informed immunization decisions – as adults and parents themselves one day – than we need to ensure they’re educated on the subject as teenagers.  High school science courses should be preparing them with a basic understanding of infectious diseases and immunology.  They should be learning how to identify reputable sources and conduct thorough research.  And they should be preparing to make their own health decisions by understand the risks of disease, the benefits of community immunity and the importance of immunizations throughout the life span.

theinvisible_threat_Promo_Facebook_avatar_450x450There is no better example of how capable young adults are in understanding the science behind immunizations than in the making of the captivating 40-minute documentary “Invisible Threat“.  The film, which was produced by a small group of award-winning students from chstvFILMS at Carlsbad High School in California, explores the science of vaccination.  The student filmmakers set out to understand the fears that have lead some parents to delay or decline vaccines, and in doing so they also explored the reasons behind the resurgence of preventable diseases in their community.

Funded by an unrestricted grant, they addressed this project as journalists, with the sole purpose to reveal the truth about vaccines – whatever that may be.  After extensive research and numerous interviews with families, physicians and various experts, they were shocked and convinced by what they discovered and they used their film to share that information with their peers.

Seventeen year old filmmaker Allie DeGour, who was going into her sophomore year when she started her journey with “Invisible Threat“, explains:

I have been a part of CHSTV for 3 years now and my contribution to this film was research and reporting. My experience throughout the making of this film was a complete roller coaster ride. Not only was it an insightful and educational journey, but it was also one that changed my thoughts on an array of subjects.

When I began working on this film, I had a strong disliking to vaccinations. The needles, the thought of the process, and the “pain” when you get one. Just thinking about it made me uncomfortable. Because of this, I was extremely stubborn about changing my views on shots and vaccinations. About a week into conducting research for this film, (yes, we all contributed long after-school hours to educate ourselves on this subject), my beliefs were foggy. I didn’t know what to believe anymore. Were vaccinations causing innocent little kids to get autism? Were they the cause of saddened parents around the world? This is what I was going to find out. 

I started asking my fellow filmmakers what their thoughts were on this. They had been conducting the same research so they were bound to have made their own conclusions, right? Wrong. They were just as confused as I was. This was when we realized this was something we had to really dig deep into. After months of researching, filming, and interviewing, we had all drawn our own conclusions on the subject. My personal conclusion is that vaccinations causing autism is a social controversy, not a scientific one. The scientific evidence was there to prove there was no connection between vaccines and autism and we interviewed a leading autism researcher in the film who explained it to us.

The experience of creating Invisible Threat has not only helped me become a much more educated student, but also an educated patient. No longer will I be terrified to go into an appointment with my doctor because of a shot or vaccination that I have to receive. Now that I know what it’s going to do in the long run, it’s worth it. 

Read more…

Asking Before They Play: How to Handle the Response

July 23, 2014 37 comments
In the first part of this series, Ask Before They Play to Keep Chickenpox, Pertussis and Measles Away, Dr. Zibners explores why a parent might be concerned if their vaccinated child has unvaccinated playmates.  In the second part, Are Your Child’s Friends Vaccinated, she provides tips on how to pose the question to others.  In this final post she offers suggestions on how to respond when the answer isn’t exactly what you were hoping for.

 

DrZibnersPart Three: Handling the Response

By Dr. Lara Zibners

In parts one and two of this series, I’ve been equating a conversation about firearms in the home to one about immunization. Both can be awkward but both are very, very necessary. But suppose the answer isn’t the one you were hoping for.

You take a deep breath and spit it out: “Do you keep a loaded gun in the house?” If the answer is yes, there’s another conversation to be had: “Where are they kept? Are they secure? Where is the ammunition? I meant a revolver, not your staple gun!”

In the same way, you may want to open the conversational door about vaccines. What if the answer is

“Oh, no, we don’t vaccinate”

Do you panic? Jump to conclusions? Grab your child and run screaming?

No. Obviously not. My kids are numerous (3) and heavy (nearly 90 pounds combined). I can’t run anywhere. But besides that, it’s best not to start the conversation by assuming that every unvaccinated child has parents who are unwilling to vaccinate. If you find out that your child’s best friend hasn’t had his MMR vaccine, don’t turn away just yet. Take a deep breath and ask one simple question: Read more…

Ask Before They Play To Keep Chickenpox, Pertussis and Measles Away

July 15, 2014 36 comments

Part One: Why Ask at All?

DrZibners

By Dr. Lara Zibners

 “Oh, you know, we never had baby gates, because, you know, of the controversy.”

This was the response I got from a mom at a playgroup after some random conversation about safety. Our house had a flight of stairs just off the living room that was 16 wooden steps ending directly onto a slab of stone. So we had baby gates at either end. The story was likely the one about me installing these gates and then calling the company to find out how to open them. They were that good. Anyway, it made perfect sense to me that small children + long staircase + stone floor = potential significant injury. Until that exact moment, I was unaware there was a “controversy.”

Yet, apparently this other mother had read something about boundaries and teaching children to respect the staircase from behind imaginary walls. Which would then in turn help them develop self-control. Whatever. To my mind, having your frontal lobe all bruised up after a flight down a staircase would also create long-lasting issues, so I went for the option with an immediate safety return.

If you look between the lines of this exchange, you can see that it’s not so different from finding out that this mother was a vaccine-refusing parent. Her philosophy about parenting was so incredibly different that mine, and her ideas seemed so far out there, that I had no answer for her. Just a smile and a nod. (And a snarky comment about traumatic brain injury—I couldn’t help myself.)

Is that really so different from mentioning your child’s flu shot appointment and being met with a response that implies (or flat out says) that the flu is not dangerous and actually good for building their natural immunity? Those of you who are convinced that immunization is the most effective way of protecting your children from a variety of preventable and life-threatening illnesses have already made peace with this decision. If, on the other hand, you’ve chosen to vaccinate but still have questions than I suggest you continue to hang around sites like this. The more you learn about the scientific evidence that supports immunizations, the more certain you will be in your decision.

FosterKidImageBut what do you do when you find out about parents who have made other decisions?  What do you do when you discover your child’s best friend is unvaccinated? Should you care? After all, is it any of your business?

Read more…

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