“Vaccines are truly the greatest health innovation that we’ve seen in history,” Dr. Susan Desmond-Hellmann, CEO of the Gates Foundation, reminds us.
An important challenge we face today is ensuring that those who could benefit from vaccinations actually receive vaccinations, an effort that’s been stymied by a powerful anti-vaccination movement that uses disinformation and long-discredited research to persuade people to avoid vaccinations not only for themselves, but also (and especially) for their children – with predictable results.
Diseases such as measles that should now be obscure are making a comeback, as the decisions made by vaccine skeptic parents devastate their innocent, disease-susceptible children. (See this and other pieces written by FORBES contributor Emily Willingham, who has written extensively and intelligently about this topic).
While I was always (and remain) struck by the apparent prevalence of vaccine skepticism in elite progressive communities (not unfamiliar to me in the Bay Area), it turns out that vaccine skepticism seems to cross party lines, as this 2015 eye-opening article by Chris Mooney in the Washington Post revealed.
Thus, it was disappointing, but perhaps not surprising, when candidate Donald Trump seemed to embrace vaccine skepticism, and reportedly considered convening an advisory panel on a topic most consider settled science. When Trump was elected, many physicians and health policy researchers wondered where the Administration would come down on this.
To the relief of most scientists, leading Administration health experts have unequivocally and emphatically endorsed the scientifically proven value of vaccination. U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams, appointed by Trump in 2017, has strongly promoted vaccination, even posting a video on Twitter in December of his own daughter getting a flu shot.
Similarly, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, Commissioner of the FDA (and another Trump appointee) championed vaccination for years, emphasized the lack of a link between vaccines and autism in his confirmation hearing, and has continued to advocate for vaccination his current role, actively highlighting the importance of vaccines, and sharing immunization photos of himself on Twitter.
Yet today, in a masthead editorial ironically arguing – correctly and intelligently -- that vaccination is too important to be politicized, the Times took a reflexive and ignorant swipe at the current Administration, insisting on the narrative that while the anti-vaxxers have a loud voice (accurate), the current Administration isn’t pushing back:
I’m not sure how many Pinocchios this garners, but it’s at least a few.
The truly unfortunate aspect here is that the actual behavior of Administration health leaders like Gottlieb and Adams powerfully support the “get vaccinated message” that the Times editorial is appropriately trying to convey. The missed opportunity here was to highlight that even in an Administration, where it can seem risky to follow conscience over loyalty, both of these physicians have clearly chosen to follow the science in pursuit of enhancing public health; of course, there is always more to be done.
Ensuring the benefits achievable through vaccination represents an important health goal on which both political parties can agree. Efforts by public officials to drive this message home should be acknowledged and applauded.
盖茨基金会( Gates Foundation )首席执行官苏珊•德斯蒙德-赫尔曼( Susan Desmond-Hellmann )提醒我们：“疫苗确实是历史上最伟大的健康创新。”
尽管我一直（而且仍然）对精英进步社区中疫苗怀疑论的明显流行感到震惊（在湾区我并不陌生），但事实证明，疫苗怀疑论似乎跨越了党派界限，正如克里斯•穆尼( Chris Mooney )在《华盛顿邮报》( Washington Post )发表的2015年开篇文章所揭示的那样。
因此，当候选人唐纳德特朗普( Donald Trump )似乎对疫苗持怀疑态度时，这令人失望，但或许并不令人惊讶。据报道，特朗普曾考虑就一个最被认为已解决的科学问题召开一个顾问小组。当特朗普当选时，许多医生和卫生政策研究人员都想知道政府会在这方面采取什么行动。
为了让大多数科学家松一口气，政府卫生专家率先明确和强调支持疫苗接种的科学价值。2017年，特朗普任命的美国外科医生杰罗姆·亚当斯( Jerome Adams )大力推广疫苗接种，甚至在12月的 Twitter 上发布了自己女儿接种流感疫苗的视频。
同样，食品药品监督管理局（FDA）专员 Scott Gottlieb 博士（以及特朗普任命的另一位官员）多年来一直倡导疫苗接种疫苗，他在确认听证会上强调疫苗和孤独症之间缺乏联系，并继续倡导他目前的作用，积极强调疫苗的重要性，在 Twitter 上分享自己的免疫接种照片。
我不知道有多少 Pinocochios 这样的储藏，但至少有几个。
真正令人遗憾的是， Gottlieb 和 Adams 等政府卫生领导人的实际行为有力地支持了《纽约时报》社论正试图传达的“接种疫苗信息”。这里错过的机会是强调，即使在一个似乎有风险的政府，遵循良知而不是忠诚，这两位医生显然选择遵循科学，以提高公众健康；当然，还有更多的事情要做。