04 September 2010

RECOMMENDED VIEWING: FRONTLINE - THE VACCINE WAR

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Working in a natural food store and being surrounded by many people in my life who are skeptical about one thing or another, the topic of childhood vaccinations has come up many many times. I have overheard many quips about the "money-hungry" and "corrupt" pharmaceutical companies that make vaccines as just part of their plot to keep people sick and in the dark about it. Some of the same and others voice concerns of possible side effects including autism. I knew little of the issue so I generally just listened and tried to learn what I could.

Growing up, the brother of a friend of my mother was said  have suffered mental retardation with autism after his first DPT [diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), and tetanus] immunization. With that idea firmly implanted, I believed for most 
of life that vaccines were generally bad and that I wouldn't allow children I may potentially father to receive them

In February 2010 NPR reported that the evidence most often cited by anti-vaccine advocates and organizations as their rational, by Dr Andrew Wakefield, had been retracted by its publishing journal. Outrage on the anti-vaccine side was apparent and finally a fuller version of the public debate over the common good benefit versus the possible side-effects was getting widespread coverage. My interest was piqued.

FRONTLINE: THE VACCINE WAR, first aired on PBS in April 2010, includes the new Wakefield development as well as the opinions and science on the issue from doctors, celebrity spokespeople, scientists, and parents. I found the reporting to be pretty balanced and in depth for a one hour running time. It is availabe now via Netflix, their on demand option, and for free at Frontline's website.


By the way, I'd include myself as skeptical even if the categories of skepticism may differ from the typical. 

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