From: Arthur Caplan and Dorit Reiss
SUBJECT: requiring the vaccination of children and workers in daycare and pre-K against the flu
In recent testimony submitted to the Public Health Department of Rhode Island, a representative of the Rhode Island ACLU spoke against the requirement to vaccinate Rhode Island’s children age six months to 5 years of age against the flu in order to enter daycare or pre-kindergarten. Under the rule, annual influenza vaccination would be mandatory for all children between 6 months and 59 months before entering preschool or day care programs. Even students deemed exempt for medical or religious reasons would be required to stay home during flu outbreaks.…
by Arthur Caplan, Ph.D.
Earlier this week I was a guest on a Pennsylvania public television show. The topic was the safety of GMO foods. One of the guests who appeared with me was the owner of a natural foods and supplements store. He was no fan of GMOs. He cited many ailments and woes he claimed were associated with eating GMO foods ranging from cancer to Parkinsonism to infertility. Put aside the fact that no major scientific or medical group has found any reason to be concerned about the safety of GMOs. And ignore the fact that it is hard to think of any risk or danger that can cause the litany of misery the natural food and supplement purveyor claimed could be laid at the causal feet of GMOs. What was strange was that a person who makes his living selling natural and organic items, was not seen as having a conflict of interest when he impugned GMOs. The guy makes a living selling what are almost always expensive foods and supplements and yet no one but me challenged the fact that this source of income might give him reason to be a bit hostile to the competition—-GMO based food.…
by Arthur Caplan, Ph.D.
As Americans enter 2014 there is grave concern among our political leaders that we are lagging behind other nations in terms of our children’s’ scientific literacy. This past December an international survey confirmed—too many American kids don’t understand science and they continue to fall behind children from other nations, many much poorer than we are in science and math skills.
Students in the United States slipped deeper in the last international science literacy rankings amid fast-growing competition abroad. American teens scored below the international average in math and roughly average in science, compared against dozens of other countries in the 2012 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA). We trail Germany, Estonia, Latvia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Britain, Latvia, Viet Nam and many more. (http://www.oecd.org/pisa/keyfindings/pisa-2012-results.htm)
Some of our leaders know that the continuing drop in scientific skills spells disaster for our economic future. Secretary of Education Arnold Duncan in reviewing the survey complained that the United States’ performance on the 2012 PISA is “a picture of educational stagnation…This is a reality at odds with our aspiration to have the best-educated, most competitive workforce in the world.”
No doubt our education system carries some of the blame for our continued slippage relative to the rest of the world in science. But if we continue to think that poor schools and bad teaching are the only source of our science woes we are surely missing the forest for the trees.…
by Arthur Caplan Ph.D.
Concepts matter in doing the right thing in medicine. This could not be more obvious then the utter confusion on display over the concepts of ‘brain death’ and ‘life support technology’ that has resulted in two dead people being kept on artificial life support in California and Texas.
In Oakland, California 13 year old Jahiu McMath has been maintained on machines since an elective tonsillectomy went horribly wrong on December 9. She has been in the ICU on life-support at the Children’s Hospital since then.
In Forth Worth, Texas, Marlese Munoz has been on machine support in the ICU at JPS Hospital since, without any warning, last November 26th, she suffered a pulmonary embolism. She was then 14 weeks pregnant.…
by Arthur L. Caplan, PhD
Imagine that you were in a terrible car accident and suffered a huge loss of blood. An ambulance comes and takes you, dazed and in pain, to the only hospital within a hundred mile area of the accident. That hospital happens to be affiliated with the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Everything at the hospital is state of the art. The doctors and nurses are all well trained. There is only one hitch in terms of your medical care. You need blood transfusions or you are going to die. The hospital does not have a blood bank. Nor does it offer transfusions.…
by Arthur L. Caplan, PhD
Emergency doses of a meningitis vaccine not approved for use in the U.S. are likely to be on the way to Princeton University to halt a meningitis outbreak that has already sickened seven students http://www.nbcnews.com/health/emergency-meningitis-vaccine-will-be-imported-halt-ivy-league-outbreak-2D11603651. There are approved meningitis vaccines available, but they do not protect against Meningitis B—a strain not covered by the shots given in the U.S. and not a strain prevalent here.
Government health officials said Friday they have agreed to import Bexsero, a vaccine licensed only in Europe and Australia that does protect against meningitis B. And that decision seems entirely reasonable given the threat that this nasty strain of meningitis poses.…
by Arthur L. Caplan, PhD
The Governor of Ohio has been wrestling with the question of whether a prisoner soon to be executed can donate his organs. Ronald Phillips, 40, is scheduled to be executed in the next few days for the 1993 rape and murder of 3-year-old Sheila Marie Evans. He says he would like to donate his heart and kidney to his family members who may need them. In fact, execution by electrocution, gassing and lethal injection in an execution chamber do not go well with organ donation. Execution deliberately tries to get vital bodily organs to stop working. Organ procurement requires brain death with vital organs undamaged. They don’t mix.…
Sabine Hildebrandt, MD
William Seidelman, MD
Arthur Caplan, PhD
A recurring assertion in the ongoing debate on abortion in the United States is the statement that pregnancy is an uncommon consequence of rape. Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., has recently argued on the floor of the House of Representatives that an exception for rape wasn’t necessary in a proposed law banning abortions after 20 weeks because “the incidence of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low.”
Why do so many Americans believe this claim? Where does it come from?
According to some, the idea that you can’t get pregnant during a rape comes from research done by the Nazis on female prisoners by physicians in Germany during World War II.…
Arthur Caplan, Ph.D.
Among the greatest failures in American public health—and the list is a long one—is the rise in the incidence of cervical cancer. Incredibly, cancers caused by human papillomavirus rose in the past decade. From 2000 to 2009 rates of oral, vulva and anal cancers increased, according to a recent study by the National Cancer Institute. What makes this grim fact a notable public health failure is that we have not one but two vaccines that can greatly diminish these cancers. Both Merck and GSK market HPV vaccines–Gardasil and Cervarix. Gardisal has been around since 2006. So given the preventive power of the vaccines, why the upward trend in cancer?…
by Arthur L. Caplan
When a bridge collapses in an American city or a mine implodes, it does not take long before government gets in motion to figure out what to do about the problem. We see the carnage and demand action.
When a federal agency charged with protecting your health and safety is found grossly deficient, the response, sadly, is mainly talk.
hat is because it is hard to see where the victims are and, without them, it is hard to get the problem fixed. But when it comes to the Food and Drug Administration, we had better demand repairs.…