Tuesday, December 30, 2008

U.S. News & World Report - Flexible Approach to Vaccinations Comes Under Fire

The American Academy of Pediatrics has issued it's new immunization schedule published in The journal Pediatrics. The journal also includes a series of articles, one of which that criticizes vaccination through an alternative schedule.

Journalist, Deborah Kotz says the following in yesterday's US News and World Report article,
Along with this policy statement and numerous research papers, the journal contains a "special article" that quite frankly shocked me for its one-sided treatment of a very important issue with regard to vaccinations. The article is an attack on doctors who take a flexible approach to vaccinations, working with parents who, say, don't want their 2-month-old to get vaccinated against eight different diseases at once, which is what's recommended on the AAP schedule.

It targets one particular pediatrician, Robert Sears, who described several alternative approaches to vaccination in a popular consumer book called The Vaccine Book: Making the Right Decision for Y our Child. Sears calls for spacing out some vaccinations by adding office visits and delaying some shots until a child is older. More controversially, he also has a plan for those who may want to skip some immunizations, such as the chickenpox vaccine. I spoke with Sears for this parents' guide to managing vaccinations.

Unfortunately, instead of allowing a pro-and-con debate about the benefits and drawbacks of pediatricians working with parents who wish to have some flexibility, the Pediatrics journal editors chose to feature just one side of this debate. The authors of the special article take a firm stand against allowing any deviation from the current vaccine schedule, arguing that in offering a middle ground, Sears is sending "antivaccine messages."

What's worse, the lead author, Paul Offit, who heads the vaccine education center at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, clearly has a conflict of interest. He's one of the patent holders of RotaTeq, a vaccine against rotavirus that's on the AAP's vaccine schedule. That means he stands to lose money if parents shun RotaTeq.

Read the full text here

Dr. Bernadine Healy, former Dir. of the NIH and American Red Cross is currently the Health Editor for US News & World Report. Here's what she said earlier this year about the research that supposedly disproves any link between vaccines and autism. Click to see the interview

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