I probably shouldn't frame this issue as a "vs." smackdown, but it makes for an easy title. Plus, if the conversation on PedTalk about this (and from what I've heard from SOAPM) is any indication, perhaps I'm not exaggerating. The AAP has issued a request to ABC that it run a disclaimer during an upcoming episode of the show "Eli Stone" in which "...the title character successfully argues in court that a vaccine caused a child's autism." Here it is in their words:
President, Disney-ABC Television Group
47 W. 66th St.
New York, NY 10023-6290
Dear Ms. Sweeney:
According to The New York Times, ABC plans to run an episode of "Eli Stone" in which the title character successfully argues in court that a vaccine caused a child's autism. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), an organization of 60,000 pediatricians, is alarmed that this program could lead to a tragic decline in immunization rates. The AAP calls on ABC to cancel the episode.
Many people trust the health information presented on fictional television shows, which influences their decisions about health care. In the United Kingdom, erroneous reports linking the measles vaccine to autism prompted a decline in vaccination and the worst outbreak of measles in two decades, including the deaths of several children.
ABC will bear responsibility for the needless suffering and potential deaths of children from parents' decisions not to immunize based on the content of the episode. If ABC persists in airing the show, the AAP urges the network to include a disclaimer emphasizing: No mercury is used as a preservative in routinely offered childhood vaccines. No scientific link exists between vaccines and autism.
Vaccines are the single-most powerful, cost-effective public health intervention ever developed. A network as influential as ABC must consider its responsibility not to promulgate messages that undermine the years of efforts by the AAP and public health community to persuade parents to vaccinate and protect their children. The consequences of a decline in immunization rates could be devastating to the health of our nation's children.
Renee R. Jenkins, MD, FAAP
I don't know if the show in question is will be any good, but the description of it doesn't make clear how they actually derive a series from the premise. I've read a couple of the Autism blogs screaming about this - I'm not going to give them links - and it just goes to show again how a small, hyper-vocal number of people can really taint an issue. I've seen two references to the letter above as "hysterical" (as in "crazed" and not "funny").
What I wonder is if it would be better for the show to run, but with a good presentation about the science at the end? Sometimes, and I know I'm not alone, I think the AAP should purchase advertising on TV and speak directly to the public on matters like this.
If you would like to voice your concern about this episode, let ABC know here.
No, my blog has not been taken over by spammers. It's for real.
Our friends at CDC are doing a survey about immunization usage and they are giving away 10 iPads to among those who participate. Hard to beat the opportunity, especially for PCC clients for whom the data collection process takes 3 minutes.
While you're at it, you really need to participate in this survey from the AAP's COCN about Vision Screening. To quote:
As you know, vision screening is an important part of well child visits and is
a separately identifiable and reportable service. There have been nifty
recent developments in office-based screening methods for refractive errors and
amblyopia. However, the official definitions of CPT codes for vision
screening do not include some of the new methods; thus, it is hard to say
whether they are resource-valued appropriately. In addition, some
pediatricians are afraid to bill for services when the CPT code is ambiguous,
fearing an audit, or that the CPT code will only be recognized as payable if
billed by an eye care specialist.
Pediatricians have typically shot themselves in the foot from year to year when it comes to valuing their work. Here's a simple, easy way to do your part.
Back to work. The rest of the press release reads like this:
Concerns about keeping immunization rates at adequate levels have prompted the nation’s leading medical and advocacy groups to join together to raise the public’s confidence in vaccines…
The list of alliance members is impressive. Their goals are laudable (if unlikely - check out the one relating to blogs and the Internet). And the cause is important. Let’s see if it goes anywhere. Get back to your old time TV.
I've taken the last week or so off and, technically, I am still off asI sit at home in the kitchen to help keep the new puppy company. I havesome long overdue content to get out, but I'll toss up these gems fornow.
First, here's a great linkon NPR featuring Dr. Lander! The media is starting to pick up on theissue of vaccine costs. I love how the insurance spokewoman blames itall on the government. I want to get ahold of the study mentioned inthis month's Pediatrics, but you can see our attempt to measure the impact of vaccine overhead here on this magic blog. It's substantial.
Before I leave you today, here's a list of the top 10 posts, based onhit volume, from the blog in 2008. The "readership" has nearly tripled(I can get a few hundred a day, now) and I am very grateful for eachand every one of you. Especially those who send me great information.So...thank you!