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General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Can vaccine recommendations be based solely on individual and public health?

by  at (Nov. 15, 2011)

In this cartoon, the British satirist James Gillray caricatured a scene at the Smallpox and Inoculation Hospital at St. Pancras, showing Edward Jenner administering cowpox vaccine to frightened young women, and cows emerging from different parts of people’s bodies. The cartoon was inspired by the controversy over inoculating against the dreaded disease, smallpox. The inoculation agent, cowpox vaccine, was rumored to have the ability to sprout cow-like appendages. A serene Edward Jenner stands amid the crowd. A boy next to Jenner holds a container labeled “VACCINE POCK hot from ye COW”; papers in the boy’s pocket are labeled “Benefits of the Vaccine”. The tub on the desk next to Jenner is labeled “OPENING MIXTURE”. A bottle next to the tub is labeled “VOMIT”. The painting on the wall depictsworshippers of the Golden Calf.

Have you heard the parable about the blind men and the elephant? Each is holding a different part of the animal and comes to a different conclusion about what he’s dealing with. The man holding the tail is sure it’s a rope; the one with the trunk fears a snake; the one holding the tusk is certain he has a spear. It’s all in their perspective. They’ll need to share what they each know and consider the others’ perspectives if they have any hope of understanding the true scope of what they’re facing.

And so it is when a group sits down to talk about the cost-effectiveness of vaccines. If you’re a parent who lost your child to meningitis, the cost of a vaccine dose is trivial. However, if you’re considering this from the population-based, public health decision-making perspective, the annual price tag of $387 million to administer meningococcal booster doses to all 16-year-olds is anything but trivial. If you sit on the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, considering, discussing and deciding how much weight to give each of these perspectives and many others is now all in a day’s work.

Read the entire article

November 16, 2011 - Posted by | Consumer Health, Public Health | , ,

1 Comment »

  1. […] Can vaccine recommendations be based solely on individual and public health? ( Rate this: Share this:StumbleUponDiggRedditTwitterLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

    Pingback by Inhumane Experiments That Helped Humans « Rashid's Blog | November 30, 2011 | Reply

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