Which American cities have lowest herd immunity due to anti-vaxxers?

Parents of Seattle, Spokane, Portland, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, Provo, Houston, Fort Worth, Austin, Plano, Detroit, Troy, Warren, Kansas City and Pittsburgh: beware. Read the rest

Social media's "engagement"-based algorithms are intrinsically hospitable to conspiracies and fake news

Renee DiResta is part of an interdisciplinary group that has tracked disinformation campaigns online for years, advising the Obama White House on the use of social media to spread conspiracy theories; she helped brief Congress in advance of the current hearings on the use of the internet to spread misinformation to influence the 2016 election. Read the rest

Rich people in California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, and Pennsylvania are to blame for dangerous anti-vaxx surge

In Geographic and demographic correlates of autism-related anti-vaccine beliefs on Twitter, 2009-15 (Sci-Hub mirror), social scientists from U Alabama, U Colorado and the NIH take a data-driven approach to understanding the surge in vaccine denying tweets that blame vaccinations for autism, a totally discredited idea espoused by the President of the USA. Read the rest

Crowdfunding a pro-vaccination bus to follow the anti-vaxxer bus

Jack writes, "Craig Egan has been a thorn in the side of the anti-vaccination movement for years. Now he's taking that passion for truth and facts on the road, following the Anti-Vaccination people in the Vaxxed bus. He's crowdfunding the tour and donating excess proceeds to a pro-Vaccination charity." Read the rest

Anti-Vaxx numbers still rising, stupidity will kill our children

Yet another opinion piece, this one in the New York Times, detailing how incredibly cavalier folks who decline to vaccinate their children are.

It’s looking as if 2017 could become the year when the anti-vaccination movement gains ascendancy in the United States and we begin to see a reversal of several decades in steady public health gains. The first blow will be measles outbreaks in America.

Measles is one of the most contagious and most lethal of all human diseases. A single person infected with the virus can infect more than a dozen unvaccinated people, typically infants too young to have received their first measles shot. Such high levels of transmissibility mean that when the percentage of children in a community who have received the measles vaccine falls below 90 percent to 95 percent, we can start to see major outbreaks, as in the 1950s when four million Americans a year were infected and 450 died. Worldwide, measles still kills around 100,000 children each year.

The myth that vaccines like the one that prevents measles are connected to autism has persisted despite rock-solid proof to the contrary. Donald Trump has given credence to such views in tweets and during a Republican debate, but as president he has said nothing to support vaccination opponents, so there is reason to hope that his views are changing.

However, a leading proponent of the link between vaccines and autism said he recently met with the president to discuss the creation of a presidential commission to investigate vaccine safety.

Read the rest

Trump's five most "anti-science" moves

Scientific American summarized five of Donald Trump's "major moves many see as hostile toward science." They are:

• Trump’s pick for head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has actively battled its mission

"To lead the EPA, Trump appointed Scott Pruitt, the Oklahoma attorney general who has long opposed environmental regulations and has questioned the science behind climate change."

He chose former Texas Gov. Rick Perry for Energy Secretary

"It is a science-heavy department, and one that (climate change skeptic) Perry—who is not a scientist—had advocated dismantling during his 2012 presidential bid."

He chose an energy company executive for secretary of State

"Trump tapped former ExxonMobil Chief Executive Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State."

• He met with a vaccine critic while planning a commission on autism

"(Robert Kennedy, Jr) has repeatedly promoted discredited arguments that link vaccines to autism."

His transition team sought information about Energy Department staff associated with climate change

"In December Trump’s team asked the DoE for the names of employees who have worked on issues related to climate change."

"Trump's 5 Most 'Anti-Science” Moves (Scientific American) Read the rest

Australian educational contractor warns of wifi, vaccination danger to "gifted" kids' "extra neurological connections"

Wise Ones, an Australian "gifted" education programme offers students who test into it vaccination exemption forms, and advises them to avoid wifi, because they say that "gifted children" have "extra neurological connections" that make them vulnerable to "extra sensitivities to food or chemicals." Read the rest

Anti-Vax fraud still showing his movie in the US

After being shamed out of the Tribeca Film Festival, Anti-Vax hoaxer Andrew Wakefield continues to spread his lies. Someone in Kansas City thought giving time to Vaxxed, his conspiracy flick, was a good idea.

Via The Kansas City Star:

The anti-vaccination documentary “Vaxxed” was set to be part of this spring’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York. But then the festival and one of the film’s defenders, actor Robert De Niro, came under fire and pulled the film.

Now Kansas City area audiences will have a chance to see the controversial film for themselves...

...Wakefield is the British gastroenterologist who claimed to link autism to the vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella. (De Niro has an autistic child.) Since then, his research has been called “an elaborate fraud,” and Wakefield’s medical license was revoked.

Read the rest

Six cases of measles confirmed in Tennessee outbreak. Measles was eradicated in the U.S. in 2000.

Public Health officials in Shelby County, Tennessee today confirmed six cases of measles in the county, up from two last Friday. Victims of the measles outbreak are "widely diverse" in terms of age, gender and where they live, authorities said. Read the rest

The science of vaccine denial

The only real scientific mystery about vaccines is why so many people buy into the deadly pseudoscience of vaccine denial and put their kids -- and yours -- at risk of catching ancient, vanquished, deadly diseases. Read the rest

Having the brakes removed from your car is a personal decision

Scientists may say that brakes save lives, but virtually every car-wreck co-occurs with panicked braking -- did you know that in the old days, cars didn't have brakes? Read the rest

Rand Paul: solve vaccination issues by making children into property

"The state doesn't own your children. Parents own the children, and it is an issue of freedom and public health." Read the rest