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Article of the Month: “Measles, Mumps, And Communion: A Vision For Vaccine Policy”

10 Nov, 2019
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A thoughtful reflection and analysis on social cooperation and vulnerability  – HL

 

Measles, Mumps, And Communion: A Vision For Vaccine Policy

Joshua T. B. Williams      published in Health Affairs

It was the fall of 2006, and mumps was raging at Wheaton College in Illinois. By the conclusion of the outbreak, nearly a hundred students had been infected at the tail end of a multistate epidemic that affected over a thousand Midwesterners. I was a junior at Wheaton, and several of my friends had sought treatment for swollen glands, fever, and a malaise quite distinct from the usual dorm-room disquiet. As cases increased and tests confirmed mumps as the etiologic agent, our community became increasingly disrupted. Classmates became cases. Dorm rooms became quarantine zones. Public health notices replaced concert fliers on community messaging boards. School officials forbade us from visiting our exiled friends, so we waved through windows and brought them meals on plastic trays during the increasingly icy fall. The food was cold by the time we set it at their doors….

As public health departments and elected officials across America respond to escalating cases and costs, they have imposed public-space quarantines, school attendance bans, and even the forcible removal of children from their homes. With these actions, the cohesive mortar of our communities begins to crumble. And unlike the Wheaton outbreak twelve years ago, which briefly caused cracks in campus life before ending, the current crisis is a protracted threat. Furthermore, outbreaks have affected many insular faith groups, fostering a distrust of religion. In “An Outbreak Spreads Fear: Of Measles, of Ultra-Orthodox Jews, of Anti-Semitism,” a New York Times reporter observed how some New York residents have begun crossing the street when they see ultra-Orthodox Jews. Many Hasidic leaders fear an increase in anti-Semitism.

How should policy makers respond to these concerning stories? What should they do, as professional societies such as the American Academy of Pediatrics call on them to eliminate religious vaccine exemptions? When weighing parental autonomy and the public good in their own settings, states have enacted a patchwork of vaccine statutes. Yet surely there are overarching principles that could guide the creation of new policies that protect public health, respect religion, and minimize disruption to our communities. What might they be?        Read full article here

 

 

 

This entry was posted on Sunday, November 10th, 2019 at 7:37 am and is filed under Blog.

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Literature Literature archive

Biswal . 2019 NEJM DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1903869
Piot P, Larson HJ, O'Brian KL, et al 2019 NATURE Vol. 575, pages119–129.
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