Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Eli Stone: Vaccines and Autism

This Associated Press article is bound to stir up some controversy:

A nationwide pediatricians' group wants ABC to cancel the first episode of a new television series, saying it perpetuates a myth that vaccines can cause autism.
The episode of the legal drama "Eli Stone" features a courtroom battle over a claim that a flu vaccine made a child autistic.
When it's revealed that an executive at the fictional vaccine maker didn't let his own child get the shot, the jury sides with the family.

The American Academy of Pediatrics claims the show is "the height of reckless irresponsibility on the part of ABC." It says the network will share the responsibility if parents who watch the show fail to get their children immunized because of it -- and deaths occur as a result.

The show's co-creators say they're not anti-vaccine and they would be "deeply upset" if parents chose not to immunize their children based on a fictional program.
"Eli Stone" premieres on Thursday.
We had a very heated discussion about this topic a few weeks ago on newsanchormom.com. Look for the title Autism and Vaccinations in the archives to get both sides of this controversial issue.

-NewsAnchorMom Jen


Ch Yah said...

Not that this has anything to do with the article, but the pic is of the Dirty Sexy Money cast, not Eli Stone.
The vaccine issue, I will look further into your previous blog. I have a friend that currently has a lawsuit against their OB for their child being struck with autism.

Knight in Dragonland said...

UGH ... I heard about this show. Of course I think airing this episode is highly irresponsible of ABC and the producers of the show, but I don't advocate censorship because that would simply add fuel to the anti-vaccine paranoia already circulating out there.

I would hope that people would be reasonable enough not to let a work of sensationalist TV fiction influence important real world choices, but I'm sure that I'll be fielding more questions because of this.

newsanchormom.com said...

Someone sent me this editorial from The Chicago Tribune. I thought you might want to read it:

By Julie Deardorff of the Chicago Tribune.

Eli_2 Unlike officials at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and many pro-vaccination bloggers, I've had a chance to watch the entire pilot episode of ABC's legal comedy/drama "Eli Stone."
The already controversial program, which debuts Thursday at 9 p.m. and subjects viewers to fanciful scenes involving pop singer George Michael, depicts a lawyer who argues in court that a mercury-based preservative in a flu vaccine made a child autistic.
The AAP, after watching a seven-minute trailer of the show and reading media reports, was so outraged a sacred cow had been attacked that it demanded that ABC cancel the episode. Ironically, the move is drawing even more attention to the show.
While the program includes statements that science has refuted any link between autism and vaccines, the AAP complained that "the episode's conclusion delivers a contrary impression; the jury awards the mother $5.2 million, leaving audiences with the destructive idea that vaccines do cause autism."
I disagree.
For starters, the AAP ought to give television viewers a little more credit. Will we really believe Eli Stone is a prophet who hears songs by George Michael, of all people, every time he has a vision?
Moreover, the autism in the story line is almost incidental given all the other loopy things that are packed into the pilot. It's not about whether vaccines cause autism. What the episode's conclusion really asks is: Which is the greater force in life: science or faith?
If the AAP had watched the whole program (or scanned the Web site), it might have seen that Eli Stone's brother, the doctor who diagnoses Eli's brain aneurysm represents science. Stone's acupuncturist friend, Dr. Chen, embodies faith.
And as Dr. Chen tells Eli,
"Everything has two explanations: scientific and divine. We choose which one to believe."
This is how the autism-vaccine debate is playing out. Parents who are concerned about the safety of vaccines have already made up their minds. It won't matter how many studies show there is no link between vaccines and autism. We all believe our own truths.
Vaccines can be life-saving, but like any medical procedure, they carry risks, even if autism is not "officially" one of them. It's up to every individual to get educated on vaccine safety and to consider benefits versus risks.
I applaud ABC for trying to keep the conversation going once the television has been turned off.

Eli Stone’s premiere episode airs Thursday nightabc.go.com/fallpreview/elistone/index and there is nothing like a controversy to spark high ratings.

To give feedback abc.go.com/site/contactus.html

Knight in Dragonland said...

Like I said ... fuel to the fire. I think the AAP went overboard demanding that the show be pulled.

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