Health Experts Weigh in on the Vaccination Debate

Neeraj Mistry is managing director of the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases at the Sabin Vaccine Institute. He spoke at the 2015 Aspen Ideas Festival.

Paul Offit, a physician and director of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, says each year he sees at least one child die of a preventable disease. Often it’s because the parent chose not to vaccinate their child, he adds. The debate around vaccinations and who should decide — parents or the government — was discussed during a panel conversation at Spotlight Health 2015.

The widespread skepticism about vaccines isn’t surprising. Offit says parents in the US are asked to protect their children against 14 different diseases, meaning as many as 26 shots can be administered in the first few years of life. “I think it’s perfectly reasonable people are concerned about vaccines,” he says. For parents with reservations, Offit thinks the value of vaccines needs to be framed in a compassionate way and science should be presented to alleviate concern.

Neeraj Mistry of the Sabin Vaccine Institute says individuals’ doubts about vaccines are in part due to the decreasing prevalence of them. “Some doctors don’t even recognize these diseases anymore,” Mistry says. “It’s out of our memories and as a consequence of that, it’s not pervasive in our social contract.”

Moderator Chris Foster of Booz Allen Hamilton noted the panel was not entirely diverse in its thinking around the issue. He called the medical officials onstage “passionate champions of vaccines and vaccinations.”


AITG: Learn Anything Fast!

In this episode, best-selling author of The First 20 Hours: How to Learn Anything Fast! Josh Kaufman shares universal, field-tested approaches to effective learning and rapid skill acquisition in adults. From deconstructing complex skills to maximizing productive practice and removing common learning barriers, Kaufman describes how 20 hours of focused, deliberate practice can help you develop surprising levels of skill in any field. Never miss an episode by Subscribing on iTunes or other podcasting services.


Booz Allen Aspen Ideas Award

Help us choose the winners of the second-annual Booz Allen Aspen Ideas Award! The award is now live to public votes and comments. It recognizes Spotlight Health and Aspen Ideas Festival Presenters and Scholars whose innovative ideas are impacting communities. The Finalists will pitch live on stage at the Festival for a chance to win $25,000. Go to the Award website to vote, comment, and offer advice as a mentor. Voting is open until May 23. Finalists will be announced in June.



At Ryan House, a youth hospice in Phoenix, a young boy with an aggressive form of cancer is given relief as he and his family go through the longest goodbye. STAT writer and Spotlight Health 2016 speaker Bob Tedeschi explores this young boy's — and his family's — journey in his latest article.


Consider This: Ryan House is one of two freestanding inpatient pediatric hospice and respite facilities in the United States. Here, kids can experience music, play, sleepovers, and more while still receiving care for their disease.


Read More from Bob Tedeschi’s column Endnotes. It’s about people living with limited time, their caregivers, and issues they face.