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September 30, 2009


I agree with Brendan, except this has nothing to do with Mr. Obama IMHO. I remember a similar battle against fluridated water when Eisenhower was President. For many decades certain groups have distrusted the government and institutions in general regarding health care issues.

With respect to media attempting to find causality where there is none, consider the reporting of just about every heat wave as being related to global warming.

With respect to media alarmism, consider once again the reporting of global warming, and consider also the reporting of the Y2K story.

Brendan concludes his post by writing, "Given the frenzied opposition to President Obama on the right, it's likely that the vaccination campaign will be portrayed as some sort of socialist plot." Four years ago, he could have said that given the frenzied opposition to President Bush on the left, it's likely that the response to Hurricane Katrina will be portrayed as some sort of racist plot. And of course, it was.

So sure, there will be stupid reporting of flu vaccination stories, and there will be politicization of the issue. What else is new?

On a less political note, note that this is a form of what epidemiologists call recall bias. I was going to type out a tedious example, but thanks to the wonder of the internet, I can link you to the exact page of the textbook I'd recommend on the subject (neat!):


From an epidemiological perspective, it would be fascinating to prospectively follow a large cohort of people (case-control style) to see if the incidence of terrible rare events is significantly different between the those vaccinated and those who aren't.

Aren't all vaccines a product of the "government" i.e., doesn't the government oversee the research, development and manufacture of them, regardless of who actually puts the needle into the patient's arm?

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