“This week…we threw the scientists under the bus”

Note: As always, this post is my own opinion and does not necessarily represent the opinion of my employer

As I was watching Meet the Press this Sunday, I caught a great quote from NBC’s Nancy Snyderman.  Starting at around 06:12 of this clip,  she sum’s up what I’ve been feeling this week:

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“This task force did not look at the economics.  Their job was to look at the pure science. And I think in some ways we hear from the scientists, don’t like the message, and this week I believe we threw the scientists under the bus.  We in this country have three hot button scientific issues.  We have stem cells, vaccines, cancer screening.  We need to step back as a society and let the scientists present their data and then, as an informed populace, look at it, talk about it.  And what happened on Monday was that the headlines then ran with the weak…

“…instead of intelligent people saying, ‘OK, what does this mean and how do we mean it’ And the task force basically said to women in their 40s, individualize yourselves, talk to your doctor.  This is all about, and I think Nancy and I agree on this, better technology.”

The science says what the science says, and in this case, it wasn’t popular.  I don’t know that I agree with the new guidelines in terms of the public health message they put out, but I do believe that the time has come for greater discussion about the merits of mammography, and the need for improved technology in this area.  That discussion seems to be getting lost in the discussion, and I am glad that Dr. Snyderman brought it up.

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H1N1 Vaccine trials have begun

Vaccine trials funded by NIH have now started at several U.S. universities., and representatives from the CDC have said that they expect to have the vaccine ready by October.  Here are some of the things we have learned so far about the vaccine.

  • Five key groups have been identified for vaccination.  These include:
    • Pregnant women
    • Caretakers of young children
    • Healthcare and Emergency personnel
    • People 6 months to 24 years of age
    • People 25-64 who have chronic health conditions or compromised immune systems
  • The government hopes that there will be enough vaccine for everyone, but if there is a shortage at first, then certain groups should get priority.
    • Pregnant women
    • Caretakers of young children
    • Healthcare and Emergency workers with direct patient contact
    • People 6 months to 4 years of age
    • People 5-18 who have chronic health conditions
    • People over age 65 are encouraged to get the seasonal flu vaccine, but are not on the list of people recommended for the swine flu vaccine.
  • The vaccine will be grown in eggs, like the seasonal flu vaccine, so people who are allergic to eggs need to consult a doctor about options.
  • It is likely that people will need to get the swine flu vaccine in three doses.  Some reports have said that the subsequent doses will come 21 days earlier.
  • Vaccine tests are currently being conducted at the University of Maryland Medical Center, Baylor College of Medicine, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Emory University, St. Louis University, Seattle Group Health Cooperative, the University of Iowa, Vanderbilt University, Children’s Mercy Hospital and Duke University Medical Center.
  • Some school districts, including the District of Columbia, have announced that they will make vaccines available to students in school, with parental permission.