2 mins

The science of “anti-vaccination” – a great primer from SciShow

Yesterday, Hank Green and the YouTube channel SciShow posted a particularly good video on the anti-vaccination movement. Unlike many commentators from within the science community, instead of vilifying parents who don’t get their kids vaccinated – or are hesitant about doing so – Green takes a science-grounded look at why people reject vaccines.

4 mins

Measles mortality rates – 2008-2011 outbreak, France

Yesterday, I posted a piece examining the oft-quoted mortality rate for measles of one to two deaths per thousand cases of infection.  Today, I want to look at what can be learned from more recent and more comprehensive dataset – this one from the 2008-2011 measles outbreak in France. In the early 2000’s, measles was a ...

5 mins

What is the risk of dying if you catch measles?

If you catch measles, what are your chances of dying? When I was a kid, measles was one of those things you were expected to catch.  I had it when I was five, and must confess, I don’t remember much about the experience.  I do remember being confined to bed.  And I also remember being told ...

1 min

Why don’t more people get flu shots?

A few weeks ago I talked with Katie Wells at Michigan Radio about why some people are reluctant to get flu shots – myself included up to last year. The interview was rebroadcast on Marketplace this last week, and can be heard here: The prompt for the story was this video I made back in ...

1 min

Google goes all Polio and Public Health

If you hadn’t noticed, today’s Google doodle celebrates the 100 year anniversary of Jonas Salk’s birth – Salk pioneered the first successful inactivated virus based vaccine for Polio. As The Guardian reminds us, it’s a good reminder of the power of vaccines.  It’s also a timely reminder of the importance of public health in our daily ...

2 mins

Why aren’t we more scared of measles?

Measles is one of the leading causes of death amongst children worldwide.  In 2012, an estimated 122,000 people died of the disease according to the World Health Organization – equivalent to 14 deaths every hour.  Yet talk to parents about this highly infectious disease, and the response is often a resounding “meh”.  Why is this?   University ...

4 mins

University of Michigan, polio, and NOVA’s new documentary on vaccines

On April 12 1955, the world was informed that the Salk polio vaccine was up to 90% effective in preventing paralytic polio.  At the time, it was hailed as one of the most anticipated announcements in medical history, and led to the overcoming of one of the most feared infectious diseases in American History. In the ...

1 min

The human side of vaccines and risk

Leading up to the new NOVA Special on vaccines (Vaccines – Calling The Shots, airing September 10th, 9:00 PM on PBS), the University of Michigan Risk Science Center be reposting a series of pieces that tackle some of the issues around vaccination, acceptance, anxiety and risk. Each week day between September 2 and September 10, look for a ...