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Tag: Immunizations

Building Better Metrics:  Immunizations and Asking the Right Question(s)

As policy experts cling to pay-for-performance (P4P) as an indicator of healthcare quality and shy away from fee-for-service, childhood immunization rates are being utilized as a benchmark.  At first glance, vaccinating children on time seems like a reasonable method to gauge how well a primary care physician does their job.  Unfortunately, the parental vaccine hesitancy trend is gaining in popularity.  Studies have shown when pediatricians are specifically trained to counsel parents on the value of immunizations, hesitancy does not change statistically

Washington State Law allows vaccine exemptions on the basis of religious, philosophical, or personal reasons; therefore, immunizations rates are considerably lower (85%) compared to states where exemptions rules are tighter.  Immunization rates are directly proportional to the narrow scope of state vaccine exemptions laws.  Immunization rates are used to rate the primary care physician despite the fact we have little influence on the outcome according to scientific studies.  Physicians practicing in states with a broad vaccine exemption laws is left with two choices:  refuse to see children who are not immunized in accordance with the CDC recommendations or accept low quality ratings when caring for children whose parents with beliefs that may differ from our own.   

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Autism and the MMR: Finally a Retraction

Are we finally ready to close the door on the much-disputed link between the MMR vaccine and autism?

On January 30, Britain’s General Medical Council ruled that Andrew Wakefield, a gastroenterologist, had acted “dishonestly and irresponsibly” in conducting his research that established a link between autism and the MMR vaccine. And yesterday, the British medical journal Lancet finally retracted the resulting 1998 study authored by Wakefield that helped drive MMR vaccination rates in the U.K. down to the point where in 2008, measles was officially declared “endemic” in the country.

The Lancet’s editor, Richard Horton, told The Guardian “It was utterly clear, without any ambiguity at all, that the statements in the paper were utterly false,” he said. “I feel I was deceived.”

The GMC investigation, entailing 197 days of evidence, submission and deliberation  between July 2007 and  January 2010, exposed an unscrupulous researcher who falsified data, used sloppy laboratory techniques and subjected children to painful and potentially harmful medical tests like lumbar punctures and multiple colonoscopies to try and prove his notion that MMR vaccinations cause bowel disease and autism. Wakefield even went so far as to offer children attending his son’s birthday party £5 to donate blood samples.

The investigation of Wakefield and his shoddy and unethical research methods began in 2004 when British journalist Brian Deer began talking with parents of the 12 children involved in Wakefield’s study and reviewing medical records. Since then, Deer has dedicated countless hours and words to setting the record straight about Wakefield’s work—including the finding that his research was funded by lawyers representing parents who planned to sue vaccine makers for damages.

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