Fighting the Anti-Vaccine Rhetoric with Science

In the interest of promoting more robust discourse around the importance of regular vaccinations for serious but preventable contagious conditions, MHA@GW is hosting a guest post series in honor of National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM). During the month of August,they’re featuring blogs from thought leaders and advocates who were asked to answer the question, “Why immunize in 2015?” You can read an excerpt of Violent Metaphors‘ Jennifer Raff here, and be sure to read on to explore more posts. MHA@GW is the online master of health administration from the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University.

“It’s critical that we continue to talk about immunization, because vaccine opponents are relentless — see the comments on my piece here for many examples of the bad science and provocative rhetoric they employ.

Speaking up is the most important step, letting parents know that their decision to vaccinate is the safest and most common way people protect their children. The anti-vaccine minority is disproportionately loud, partly because vaccines are so safe, so effective and so ubiquitous that they become part of the background landscape of parenting. Fortunately, in reaction to harmful pseudoscientific scaremongering and events like the Disneyland outbreak, people are motivated to speak out in favor of vaccines.

It matters how we talk about vaccines, too. Here is where there is the most room for improvement in 2015. Writers want the discussion to be dramatic and too often try to paint “anti-vaxxers” as demonic or vile. Or they try to use the vaccine debate as a weapon in the larger culture wars. This leads to the media (and many well-meaning science writers) giving too much weight to vaccine opponents, creating the false perception that there is a “growing movement.” Another problem is that the default images associated with stories on vaccinations are often distressed children and menacing needles. These approaches can have the unfortunate effect of recruiting more people to the anti-vaccine community, as Dan Kahan has pointed out in his piece in Science Magazine and on his blog.

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Maternal Health Heroes: Interview With Liya Kebede #MHHSS

We are excited to publish our fourth interview in our Maternal Health Heroes Summer Series with Liya Kebede, Supermodel and Founder of the Liya Kebede Foundation. Throughout the summer we will speak with some of the most notable maternal health advocates in the world ahead of the Global Maternal Newborn Health Conference that will be held in Mexico City between October 18 – 21, 2015. Follow the conversation at #MHHSS.

LiyaLiya Kebede is an accomplished designer, supermodel, actress and maternal health advocate. She has been featured on multiple American and international Vogue covers, has appeared in runway shows and major print campaigns for top designers around the world, and is a global brand ambassador for L’Oreal in the cosmetic, skincare, and hair care categories.  Kebede founded The Liya Kebede Foundation (lkfound.org) in 2005 with the mission to reduce maternal and newborn mortality.  In 2007 she launched the clothing line lemlem, (lemlem.com) meaning to bloom and flourish in Amharic.  The line is handwoven in Ethiopia and recently began expanding into other categories while maintaining production in Africa. In recognition of her body of work, Kebede was named one of Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People” in 2010. 

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News About the Success of a New Ebola Vaccine May Be Too Good to Be True

Timothy P Lahey, Dartmouth College

Ebola is on the run: the number of cases dipped below 10 a week recently, and a few days ago investigators announced in the prestigious journal The Lancet that a new Ebola vaccine was “100% effective.”

In response, global health authorities are starting to sound a little giddy. “We believe that the world is on the verge of an efficacious Ebola vaccine,” said Marie Paule Kieny, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) assistant director-general for health systems and innovation (and an author on the study). “It could be a game changer.”

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Maternal Health Heroes: Interview With Dr. Jean Chamberlain Froese #MHHSS

We are happy to publish our third interview in our Maternal Health Heroes Summer Series with Dr. Jean Chamberlain Froese, Founder and Executive Director of Save the Mothers. Throughout the summer we will speak with some of the most notable maternal health advocates in the world ahead of the Global Maternal Newborn Health Conference that will be held in Mexico City between October 18 – 21, 2015. Follow the conversation at #MHHSS.

The morning I spoke to Dr. Jean Chamberlain Froese she had just come off of a late shift delivering babies at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Hamilton, Ontario. Two of the expectant mothers in her care during the night were African. One expectant mother hemorrhaged directly after delivery and the other who had undergone female genital mutilation (FGM) needed it to be wholly reversed before she could deliver her baby. Dr. Chamberlain Froese was able to successfully reverse the FGM and saved both mothers’ and babies’ lives during delivery.

Just another day at the office.

Given each of the mothers’ obstetric complications if they still lived in Africa, the probability is they would not have survived their deliveries. In fact, 800 women around the world, particularly those who live in low- and middle-income countries, die every day during childbirth from largely preventable causes like postpartum hemorrhaging or obstructed labor. In Canada, both women survived and delivered healthy newborns. In Africa, that likely would not have been the case. After caring for these women, the lingering question arose again for Chamberlain Froese: Why is it that women who deliver in the West are more valuable than other mothers?
Continue reading Maternal Health Heroes: Interview With Dr. Jean Chamberlain Froese #MHHSS

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