Tag Archives: Vaccinations

Jerry Coyne on Faith Healing

Denying children vaccines just one part of the problem

Jerry Coyne at The Amazing Meeting 2013
Jerry Coyne at The Amazing Meeting 2013

But denying children potentially life-saving vaccines is just one part of the problem; I’d like to eliminate even more exemptions: those now enshrined in many laws permitting religious parents to withhold scientific medical care from their children in favor of faith healing.

Professor Jerry Coyne

A couple of days ago I discussed briefly Dr. Jerry Coyne’s new book Faith vs Fact. Yesterday he published an article in Slate, in which he made the statement above. I very strongly agree with it.

As you can guess from his picture, Coyne is an outspoken man. As a biologist, he is intimately familiar with both health and disease. He promotes vaccines to prevent diseases. He believes American children should be required to have their vaccines before starting to school, with no exception except for medical reasons. Personal philosophy or religion, he says, should not be an excuse for endangering the public health.

Jerry Coyne says it’s time to eliminate religious exemptions from medical care for children

Forty-eight states—all except West Virginia and Mississippi—allow religious exemptions from vaccination. (California would be the third exception if its bill becomes law.) A similar deference to religion applies to all medical care for children. As the National District Attorneys Association reports, 43 states give some kind of criminal or civil immunity to parents who injure their children by withholding medical care on religious grounds.

According to Coyne,

Some states allow religious exemptions from required testing of newborns for metabolic disorders, such as the inability to break down fats or amino acids, that can kill an untreated child but are perfectly treatable if caught early.

To illustrate his point, Dr. Coyne tells of a teenage girl who needed medical help for “fainting spells.” Her father refused to get her to a doctor, so she asked teachers for help. Apparently getting no help from her teachers either, she ran away from home; but she was found and returned to her father. Three days later she died from a ruptured appendix.

Many of the same states also allow exemptions from giving newborns hearing tests, eye drops to prevent blindness from herpes infections, testing children for lead levels in their blood, and even “learning about disease in school.”

In perhaps the most bizarre and potentially dangerous law, public school teachers in California can legally refuse to be tested for tuberculosis on religious grounds.

Christian scientists, Scientologists, faith healers, and little fundamentalist cults scattered all over the place are protected by these laws, while their children sometime die in agony. This is not right, and should not be permitted in any civilized country.

Infants and people who cannot have vaccinations because of medical reasons are put at risk by those who refuse to have them (or let their children have them) because of their superstitions, both religious and otherwise. Coyne discusses these problems at length in his new book.

Vaccinations should be required in all states; and children should be protected from parents who refuse them necessary medical treatment on ANY grounds and let them die or suffer from untreated cancer, diabetes, or other disease.

Parents do not own their children, and parental rights are not infinite. A parent may make his or her own decisions about healthcare, but he or she must not be permitted to make such decisions for a child and let the child suffer or die without effective medical treatment because of the parent’s religion or philosophy. Evening cases where a child himself refuses medical treatment for religious reasons, it must be remembered that a child cannot make mature decisions; and a court should determine whether or not the treatments continued. Religion or other superstitions should not be a factor.

See also Dr. Coyne’s recent article in The Scientist.

Source: http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/42938/title/Opinion–Science—Religion–A-Centuries-old-War-Rages-On/http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/medical_examiner/2015/05/religious_exemptions_from_medical_care_faith_healing_kills_children.html

Get Your Vaccines

Only vaccines wiped out smallpox, the terrible disease that previously killed so many millions of people every year.

Only vaccines have more recently wiped out polio — that horrible, crippling, maiming, killing disease from my own childhood that put thousands of Americans in “iron lungs” because they couldn’t even breathe — from the United States and most of the rest of the world. (Only fear of the vaccinations has permitted polio to still exist in about half-a-dozen third-world countries. And, of course, fear of the vaccines permits the disease to spread back into the rest of the world from time to time. So, for now, we still have to vaccinate against a disease that should have been extinct for more than a decade.)

Some other diseases — like flu, for example — we’ll probably never be able to eradicate. But annual flu vaccines can prevent most of the 26,000 flu-related deaths that occur in the United States alone every year.

I know I’ve said it before, but it’s important. Get your vaccines.

Get Your Flu Shot

If you have heart disease your're at high risk of flu complications. Get a flu shot to help keep your heart happy and healthy.

Who Should Get Vaccinated This Season?

Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine every season. This recommendation has been in place since February 24, 2010 when CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted for “universal” flu vaccination in the United States to expand protection against the flu to more people.

Vaccination to prevent influenza is particularly important for people who are at high risk of serious complications from influenza.


If you are eligible to get a flu shot, get it. Some people can’t, for medical reasons. Don’t spread the flu to them.

U.S. Measles Cases Reach 20-Year High

Amish Community
Amish Community


(Sorry. I couldn’t embed this PBS program. Just click the link and follow instructions for the best scientific answers to your questions about vaccination.)

 Measles Hits Amish Communities, and U.S. Cases Reach 20-Year High

Unfortunately, they weren’t vaccinated against measles before they left the United States; so they contracted the disease, brought it home, and triggered the worst American outbreak in 20 years. So far, the 130 known cases have been mostly among the unvaccinated members of their own communities.

It’s not all Amish, of course. Altogether, current outbreaks have been brought by travellers from “more than a dozen different countries.” Forty-one people so far have been hospitalized in this outbreak that covered 18 states, but nobody has died so far.

This number is small compared to the hundreds of thousands that swept the US as late as the 1960s, before the disease was almost wiped out in the developed world by vaccinations. Even now, “more than 20 million people around the world (get measles) each year.”

It really is important (and safe) to get your vaccinations. Especially if you plan to travel out of the country.

Resource: http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2014/05/29/317045500/measles-hits-amish-communities-and-u-s-cases-reach-20-year-highMay 29, 2014