• Problems And Solutions: Vaccine Conundrum

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    An image of a doctor getting ready to make an injection to a child

    Has anyone noticed that much of the blame showered on teachers and unions for blocking school reform by business-admiring pundits and policymakers is usually followed by perky pay-for-performance plans and other solutions wholly dependent upon teachers embracing the changes? Framing teachers as both the problem and the solution is a tough conundrum to unravel. Teachers, however, are not the only ones to grapple with the paradox of being blamed for a problem and then expected to turn around and solve the very same problem.

    Consider medical care. Patients, insurance companies, and federal officials criticize physicians and hospitals for errors in practice and ignoring the accelerating cost of providing health care. Tough questions are asked: Which hospitals are best and worst for cardiac surgery or for treating children with cystic fibrosis? Why do doctors commit many errors (illegible handwriting on prescriptions, incomplete charts, etc.)? Should doctors get paid for how often they treat patients or how well they treat them?

    In an era of rising health care costs, voter reluctance to increase taxes, holding doctors publicly and personally responsible for outcomes and containing costs have spurred market driven reforms that have swept over the practice of medicine heretofore immune to such debates. For-profit hospitals and private insurers now compete for customers, magazines publish rankings of best U.S. hospitals, and insurance companies link doctors’ practices to their pay. Such instances of business-inspired reforms seek improved delivery of health care to Americans.

    This is part two in a two-part series… PART 1

    There are two major drawbacks to the current vaccination doctrine that have not been explored very well in the debates. They are about the evolution of vaccine-resistant microbes and about over-stimulation of the immune system.

    Vaccine Problem #1

    Long-term thinking is an anathema to politicians and corporations. It’s that attitude that has conveniently ignored the possibility of bacteria and virus evolving to become resistant to current vaccines. Can this really happen?

    Well, vaccine resistance has already been observed with the whooping cough bacteria (“pertussis”, the P in DTaP). Starting around 2004, mutations have been observed all around the world. While the unvaccinated children get blamed for the current outbreaks of whooping cough, the reality is that Big Pharma should work on updated vaccines for these newer strains.

    Tuberculosis is another disease that kills about 2 million people worldwide, but the BCG …

    These market-driven solutions for health care problems—let’s call them reforms–raise serious issues of trust between doctors and patients over the degree to which private insurance companies or physicians will control medical practice. Deep concerns over doctor-patient relationships and practitioner autonomy get entangled in volatile policy debates over the quality and cost of national health care thus sharply spotlighting the contradiction of more than 800,000 doctors and nearly 6,000 hospitals getting singled out as being a serious problem while looking to these very same people and institutions to remedy the health care crisis

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