As the second decade of the 21st century begins, it is clear that the first one saw big changes in the way Americans think about health and vaccination. A good example is the fact that a majority of Americans “just said no” to getting an H1N1 influenza shot last year. 12 The truth is, most of us just didn’t buy the hype about swine flu. Perhaps it is because we are tired of constantly living in fear.
Next month is the 25th anniversary of the publishing of the book DPT: A Shot in the Dark, which I co-authored with medical historian Harris Coulter. It was first published by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich and was used by the Institute of Medicine as a reference for the 1991 report on Adverse Effects of Pertussis and Rubella Vaccines. It was the first major book documenting vaccine risks and flaws in vaccine science, regulation, policymaking, and law.
Twenty-five years later, parents of vaccine injured children are still calling for meaningful reform of public health policies and vaccine laws to protect individual and public health. 25 It is time to leave the politics of fear of the last decade behind, and change the way the conversation about vaccine science, policy, ethics and law is conducted so that the real issues about health and vaccination can be addressed responsibly. The people expect and deserve no less from those in positions of authority in government, industry and medicine, who operate the public health system.