Vote for more childhood disease

Aaron E. Carroll, a professor of pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine, wishes people would not talk about vaccines at presidential “debates.”

Questions about vaccines and autism were asked not only of Donald Trump, but also of the two physicians taking part: Ben Carson, a neurosurgeon, and Rand Paul, an ophthalmologist. The doctors, at least, should know better.

Here are the facts:

Vaccines aren’t linked to autism.

The number of vaccines children receive is not more concerning than it used to be.

Delaying their administration provides no benefit, while leaving children at risk.

All the childhood vaccines are important.

Then he provides evidence for all four claims. On the second claim –

It’s also not correct to call autism an “epidemic,” as Mr. Trump often seems to do. Autism is more prevalent as a diagnosis than it used to be. But much of that in recent years is because we’ve changed the definition of what it means to have “autism spectrum disorder.” For instance, 10 years ago, two-thirds of children diagnosed with autism had below-average intelligence. But today only about a third of those diagnosed with A.S.D. do. The fastest-growing group of children with autism have average or above average intelligence. We’re being more inclusive in the diagnosis.

It’s not that it’s happening more, it’s that it’s being diagnosed more. Donald Trump please note…but he won’t, of course.

And no, none of them are “optional.”

All of the shots recommended by the Centers for Disease Control have been judged to be important. I know of some people who think that the varicella, or chickenpox, vaccine is one of the “less important” ones. Tell that to my father, who contracted the illness as an adult when my siblings and I did, and almost needed to be hospitalized. Or tell that to the many babies who might catch the disease before they can get the shot and become severely ill.

In one of my favorite studies on this topic, researchers looked at how many children died of varicella before and after the introduction of the vaccine in 1995. Between 1990 and 1994, more than 45 children died with varicella as the underlying cause. From 2003 to 2007, only 10 did. Even more significantly, in that latter period only one child younger than 1 died with varicella as the underlying cause, and none after 2004. Remember that not one of those infants was vaccinated. That result came about only from herd immunity: when enough people are vaccinated to protect those who can’t be.

This shouldn’t be politicized in the first place.

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