Wednesday, April 08, 2015

NBC's "Law and Order SVU" explores vaccination debate (as well as sexting)

NBC’s “Law and Order SVU” (Special Victims Unit) tonight offered an episode “Granting Immunity” that played on the vaccine debate (link). 
A mother, believing that her son became autistic after a vaccination, organizes a campaign to falsify vaccination records so that kids can go to NYC public schools unvaccinated.  Eventually, she is arrested and charged with reckless endangerment (a term often used in New York State law) after a middle school kid gets measles with severe complications after getting exposed by attending a “porn” party, which provides a little bit of a subplot – police try to arrest a student responsible for posting or sexting the photos of the teen host of the party before running into the outbreak.

The trial does a good job of outlining the many points of the vaccine debate.  The mother insists she has the right to decide the risk of vaccination for herself, ignoring the “herd immunity” public health argument.  The lawyers do mention the overwhelming modern evidence that vaccination has very few if any risks (even with mercury thimerosal preservatives). The trial mentions the idea that parents are not allowed to send kids to school with any peanut products (like peanut butter sandwiches, which I ate a school all the time as a kid) because of the risk to kids with peanut allergies.  

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