SysAdmin. Mostly abnormal.
246 stories
·
11 followers

The global crackdown on parents who refuse vaccines for their kids has begun

1 Comment and 2 Shares

Countries like Italy and Australia are tired of measles outbreaks — so they're moving to fine anti-vaccine parents.

There’s a school of thought that refusing vaccines on behalf of your children amounts to child abuse, and that parents should be punished for their decision. We know vaccines are overwhelmingly safe and effective at preventing the spread of disease. And yet failing to immunize children can put them (and vulnerable people around them) at tremendous risk of illness or even death when outbreaks get rolling.

Now it seems Australia and a number of countries in Europe are fed up enough with vaccine-refusing parents that they’re experimenting with punitive measures. We haven’t quite reached the level of child abuse charges, but moms and dads in these countries may face fines if they fail to give their kids the recommended shots. In Australia, the directors of schools that let the unvaccinated kids in would be fined too.

This marks a pretty aggressive shift in how we manage vaccine refusers and the costly, deadly outbreaks of diseases like measles and whooping cough they help spark.

Here’s a quick roundup of the global crackdown on vaccine-refusing parents:

  • Italy’s parliament passed a law this summer that makes 10 childhood vaccinations mandatory for kids up to age 16, and requires parents to prove their children are immunized before entering school or else face a €500 (about $600 USD) noncompliance fine.
  • Germany is also cracking down on vaccine-refusing parents: Its parliament approved a law that obliges administrators at kindergartens to report parents who refuse counseling from their doctors about vaccines. Health ministries can then also fine the vaccine-hesitant parents up to €2,500 (about $3,000 USD).
  • In France, the health ministry is making 11 vaccines — up from the current three (diphtheria, tetanus, and polio) — mandatory for children by 2018, though there’s no talk of a fine there yet.
  • In Romania, the government recently adopted a draft bill that requires parents prove their children are vaccinated before kids can go to school.
  • Further afield, New South Wales Australia passed “no jab, no play” legislation in September: Effective January, the law bans unvaccinated kids from preschool and day care and fine the directors of schools that admit un-immunized children $5,500 Australian dollars ($4,400 USD). The law in South Australia is modeled on similarly stringent laws in other Australian states, and across the country, parents with children who aren’t immunized aren’t eligible for child care benefits.

Europe has long struggled with a vaccine mistrust problem (more on that here), and these new laws and policy proposals arose in the context of ongoing, unprecedented measles outbreaks across the continent. Italy has recorded more than 4,400 measles cases this year and three deaths — including one in a child whose immune system was compromised because of chemotherapy for cancer. Romania, meanwhile, has been battling Europe’s deadliest measles outbreak, with more than 8,000 cases and 32 deaths since January.

Australia has also dealt with its share of vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks, and the government crackdown is part of a push to get 95 percent of Australian children vaccinated with routine immunizations, above the current rate of 93 percent.

Before we consider punishing American parents, we might try this

The anti-vaccine landscape in America isn’t all that different. Here, vaccine skeptics have also been persuading more parents in a number of states to refuse shots for their children. So is the US ready for a similar crackdown?

“I think we're not there in the US, unless there is an outbreak of a serious epidemic requiring a public health emergency,” said Baylor College infectious disease researcher Peter Hotez.

Punishing parents for doing things that could harm their kids is not without precedent in the US, either. For example, there are laws in various states requiring parents to use car seats or seat belts for their children or else pay a fine or be docked driver's license points. Same goes for firearm storage laws.

But before we start fining anti-vaxxers, there are some much more basic steps the US could take that would improve vaccination rates. And they involve simply making it harder for parents to opt out of routine shots on behalf of their kids. California offers an instructive example of what that could look like for the rest of America.

The US is currently a patchwork of vaccine laws, and states with tougher laws have lower rates of vaccine refusals

Vaccines fall under the public health jurisdiction of the states. And there’s currently a lot of variation across the US when it comes to immunization requirements.

All 50 states currently have legislation requiring vaccines for students — but almost every state allows exemptions for people with religious beliefs against immunizations, and 18 states grant philosophical exemptions for those opposed to vaccines because of personal or moral beliefs. (The exceptions are Mississippi, California, and West Virginia, which have the strictest vaccine laws in the nation, allowing no philosophical or religious exemptions.)

“States expect that in order to access public resources, like schools, camps, or child care centers, individuals must give up some autonomy to make sure everyone in the community is safe,” said University of Colorado Denver sociologist Jennifer Reich, who studies the anti-vaccine movement.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the parts of the country that make it easier for people to opt out of their shots tend to have higher rates of ... people opting out of vaccines. So a lax regulatory environment can create space for more parents to refuse vaccines.

California has made it tougher to opt out of vaccines — with great results

Some states have been moving to crack down on this trend — most notably California — and they’re already seeing success in terms of boosting vaccine coverage rates.

California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a controversial bill in 2015 that required almost all schoolchildren in the state to be vaccinated, unless they have a medical reason for opting out. The law, SB277, was a response to a large measles outbreak that originated at the Disneyland theme park, and it means parents can no longer refuse to vaccinate their children for religious or philosophical reasons.

Early data from the California state health department suggest the law appears to have an impact — even before it went into effect. For the 2015-’16 school year, 93 percent of kids received all of the required vaccinations, up from 90 percent in 2014 and 2013.

Immunization rates in Mississippi and West Virginia — the other two US states with strict opt-out policies — suggest there are real public health benefits to making it harder for parents to refuse vaccines. In the 2014-’15 school year, more than 99 percent of kindergartners in Mississippi had their measles-mumps-rubella and diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis shots — the highest rate in the US. The rates for those vaccines were 98 percent for kindergartners in West Virginia. These figures are much higher than the national averages (85 percent for diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis and 92 percent for the measles-mumps-rubella vaccines).

So there’s a lot of room for improvement at the state level to toughen up vaccine requirements, even before the US starts considering fines.

“It's looking like in California, simply closing nonmedical exemptions is having a desired effect in terms of boosting vaccine coverage in public schools,” Hotez said. “Based on that evidence, I think that needs to be the focus — closing nonmedical exemptions in the 18 states that still allow it.”

Read the whole story
deezil
18 hours ago
reply
Finally.
Louisville, Kentucky
angelchrys
5 hours ago
reply
Overland Park, KS
Share this story
Delete

UofL leaders react to Gov. Bevin’s call for universities to cut programs that don’t lead to high-paying jobs

1 Comment

Leaders at the University of Louisville are reacting to comments made by Gov. Matt Bevin this week, in which he called for the university presidents and governing boards to focus their resources on programs delivering graduates to high-demand jobs “that matter” and consider eliminating programs that fail to do so. At a higher education conference […]
Read the whole story
deezil
5 days ago
reply
Welp, guess he doesn't want any more education or social work majors because he's gutting all sorts of public education funding, and neither profession earns a wage near what they put up with.
Louisville, Kentucky
Share this story
Delete

Wirecutter, but for Everything

2 Comments and 3 Shares

How many times have we heard from our readers, “There should be a Wirecutter for everything!”? Whether it’s babies, travel, pets, workout gear, home improvement, office furniture, or something else entirely, there’s a hunger for clear, trustworthy recommendations on the big and little things that fit into every part of our daily lives.

Since The Wirecutter was founded in 2011 and The Sweethome in 2013, we haven’t wavered from our mission to help people effortlessly choose and buy the stuff they need in order to live a better life. Until today, we’ve carried out that mission on two separate sites primarily covering tech and home.

That is changing soon. As we’ve grown over the last few years, we have expanded our coverage to encompass things beyond TVs, laptops, printers, headphones, and appliances. We’ve been feverishly adding coverage of outdoor gear, smart-home devices, furniture, and stuff for parents (of both children and pets)—the list goes on and on, and much of it blurs the line between our tech and home coverage.

That’s why, in October, we are retiring the names The Wirecutter and The Sweethome and launching a unified website in their place to be the definitive review source for our readers: Wirecutter.

With The New York Times Company powering our efforts, we realized that the best way to help our readers is to combine all of our coverage into a single site so they can find high-quality reviews of the things they need. We don’t want you to have to think about which site to go to in order to find running gear, or waste time wondering where to find our recommendations for learning and STEM toys. The existing guides that you’ve come to know won’t be going away—we’ll just put them in one place and add to the collection.

What differentiates Wirecutter from other review sites is the rigor of our review process, the transparency we provide to our readers about that process, and our reader-centric, useful approach to recommendations. The most important thing to us is not to only practice those values when it comes to home and tech, but to hit those values consistently no matter what topic our crack team of researchers, testers, reporters, and just plain curious staffers put their minds to.

And, indeed, there should be a Wirecutter for everything!

Jacqui Cheng, Editor-in-Chief
Mike Berk, Executive Editor
Dan Koeppel, Executive Editor
Ganda Suthivarakom, Executive Editor

Read the whole story
deezil
6 days ago
reply
!

I've been hoping/wanting/wishing they'd do this. Gets rid of the silly "The" on both of them, and also gets everything in one place instead of the weird cross-site-thing they were doing.
Louisville, Kentucky
ManBehindThePlan
6 days ago
While I agree with you on the naming thing, the fact that big corporate ownership is in the picture concerns me - I expect that reviews will be less informative now. Not that lately the reviews have been grand - they seem to steer only to the bigger companies nowadays.
fxer
6 days ago
The NY Times bought them a year ago and yes, reviews are less objective and more far reaching into whatever areas provide the most affiliate fees (ie: credit cards), but I still use them as one source among many in my research, often the first source. Kind of like Wikipedia.
digdoug
6 days ago
I really hope they have a full RSS feed still
deezil
5 days ago
@DigDoug me too.
fancycwabs
5 days ago
So much for "the best daily newspaper (for most people)" coverage.
Share this story
Delete
1 public comment
smkelly
5 days ago
reply
Kind of been assuming this would happen as I saw more and more stuff pop up that doesn't make sense on The Wirecutter site.
Houston, TX

Disney Is the Lone Holdout From Apple’s Plan to Sell 4K Movies for $20

2 Comments

Ben Fritz, reporting for Morningstar:

Apple Inc. has signed new deals to sell movies in ultra high-definition with every major Hollywood studio except the one with which it has long been closest: Walt Disney Co.

As someone with a significant collection of already-purchased movies from iTunes, I love that Apple arranged to get them “upgraded”. I don’t know what Disney’s problem is, though, but I hope they get on board.

So many people refuse to pay for movies. I’m not even talking about piracy here, but people who simply only watch what they can stream for “free” from Netflix or other streaming services. Why not reward the people who have paid for your movies? Re-buying previously purchased movies just because you’ve gotten a better TV makes you feel like a schmuck.

Read the whole story
deezil
6 days ago
reply
As a youth and even up until a few years ago, my family or I would routinely get boxes from an aunt and uncle in Arizona containing a player of some sort (back in the day, our first Betamax and VHS decks), and a selection of movies. They were on the cutting edge of AV, and replaced everything including media when they decided to make the jump. Now, they just upgrade AV components and send me the last used models. Got a nice Onkyo receiver out of it. Gruber might think people like that are schmucks, but until the digitization of media, that was the norm. Disney's just stuck in the old norm that they'll probably never understand how to leave.
Louisville, Kentucky
Share this story
Delete
1 public comment
jhamill
6 days ago
reply
hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahha, Gruber thinks movie studios will reward people who have already paid for movies.

Rebuying movies because I got a better player always made me feel like a schmuck, VHS, DVD, BlueRay, new player new disk.
California

"It's-a me, Mario!"

1 Share
Is Mario a human? Yes. There is some disagreement. Is Mario a plumber? Not anymore, he's retired. Is Mario Italian or Japanese? Italian. What is Mario's last name? Mario. Are Mario and Wario related? Maybe? Not. Is Mario older or younger than Luigi? They're fraternal twins. And Mario is older.
Read the whole story
deezil
14 days ago
reply
Louisville, Kentucky
Share this story
Delete

pic.twitter.com/HiKnnaPEAD

1 Comment


Posted by bloomcounty on Thursday, August 31st, 2017 4:49am


170 likes, 73 retweets
Read the whole story
deezil
19 days ago
reply
Berkeley Breathed is still a national treasure.
Louisville, Kentucky
Share this story
Delete
Next Page of Stories