Watch what happens when vaccinations drop by 10%
Don't believe a small reduction in immunization matters?
- Universities of South Florida and Pittsburgh publish an online immunization simulator.
- The simulator shows the stunning effect of even small drops in vaccination rates.
- It's not just anti-vaxxers threatening community health. There are economic and geographical factors as well.
While vaccinations are administered to individuals, the benefit they provide extends beyond the recipient to the entire community in which they reside. They strengthen community immunity, or "herd immunity," by making it harder for contagious diseases to spread through a group of people. When such illnesses encounter potential victims who've been vaccinated against them, they don't get anywhere, and their progression is blocked.
If enough people remain unvaccinated, rapid contagion through the community is more likely to occur. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), "vaccination rates of 96 to 99 percent are necessary to preserve herd immunity and prevent future outbreaks."
We're currently experiencing the worst outbreak of measles — a dangerous disease — since 1996 due to a decline in vaccination rates. A new online simulator from University of South Florida (USF) College of Public Health, in partnership with the Public Health Dynamics Laboratory at the University of Pittsburgh, shows how easily this can happen.
How the USF simulator works
Image source: FRED Web/USF
The online simulator is called "FRED" for "Framework for Reconstructing Epidemiological Dynamics." It utilizes actual Florida census data to create a visualization that models both actual current cases — each appears as a red dot — and the likely outcome if vaccination rates were to fall by 10 percent. While Florida-specific, these results could apply to any state, aside from local behavioral differences. It's pretty stunning.
Anti-vax sentiment, income level, and geography
Image source: Yakobchuk Viacheslav/Shutterstock
The CDC recommends children under 24 months in age be vaccinated against polio, measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis B, and varicella (chicken pox). The most recently published information from the CDC finds that U.S. vaccination rates for these diseases was low enough in 2017 to be a problem for herd immunity:
- ≥3 doses of poliovirus vaccine — 92.7%
- ≥ 1 dose of MMR (the combined vaccination for measles, mumps, and rubella) — 91.5%)
- ≥3 doses of HepB — 91.4%
- ≥1 dose of varicella vaccine — 91.0%
There are a few factors leading to the break down of what's been a highly effective worldwide vaccination effort that's wiped out childhood smallpox and nearly eliminated malaria and polio.
The anti-vax movement, which has become increasingly widespread due largely to endorsements by misinformed celebrities, has grown around solidly disproven links between the MMR vaccine and autism. It's behind the measles outbreak that's emanating outward from anti-vax communities such as the ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities of Brooklyn and Rockland County, New York. As of this writing, there have been 839 nationwide cases confirmed by the CDC. Sixty-six of these were in Brooklyn and 41 in Rockland.
The CDC has also found that many parents are skipping vaccines for their children due to the medicine's cost. Among lower-income groups, vaccinations have dropped precipitously for vaccines other than Hep B:
- For Medicaid children, children are anywhere from 2.5 to 15 percent less likely to be vaccinated, depending on the vaccine.
- For uninsured children, not surprisingly, the numbers are far worse, as they're 14.7 to 30.3 percent less likely to be immunized.
There's also a geographic component. Children living outside metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) are 2.6 to 6.9 percent less likely to be vaccinated.
Why vaccines don't cause autism
Perhaps the most challenging issue is the anti-vaxxers, since they seem amazingly resistant to better, more accurate information about the safety of vaccines and the damage done to their communities by opting out of herd-immunity efforts.
The remaining factors are largely an issue of access to vaccinations, both in terms of local availability — such as public school-based programs implemented in the past — and cost. Vaccinations are an important area in which the current U.S. healthcare system is clearly falling short.
- This Chilling Simulation Shows What a Measles Outbreak Could Do ... ›
- Watch how the measles outbreak spreads when kids get vaccinated ... ›
- FRED Measles ›
What can 3D printing do for medicine? The "sky is the limit," says Northwell Health researcher Dr. Todd Goldstein.
- Medical professionals are currently using 3D printers to create prosthetics and patient-specific organ models that doctors can use to prepare for surgery.
- Eventually, scientists hope to print patient-specific organs that can be transplanted safely into the human body.
- Northwell Health, New York State's largest health care provider, is pioneering 3D printing in medicine in three key ways.
- Push Past Negative Self-Talk: Give Yourself the Proper Fuel to Attack the World, with David Goggins, Former NAVY SealIf you've ever spent 5 minutes trying to meditate, you know something most people don't realize: that our minds are filled, much of the time, with negative nonsense. Messaging from TV, from the news, from advertising, and from difficult daily interactions pulls us mentally in every direction, insisting that we focus on or worry about this or that. To start from a place of strength and stability, you need to quiet your mind and gain control. For former NAVY Seal David Goggins, this begins with recognizing all the negative self-messaging and committing to quieting the mind. It continues with replacing the negative thoughts with positive ones.
Is this proof of a dramatic shift?
- Map details dramatic shift from CNN to Fox News over 10-year period
- Does it show the triumph of "fake news" — or, rather, its defeat?
- A closer look at the map's legend allows for more complex analyses
Dramatic and misleading
Image: Reddit / SICResearch
The situation today: CNN pushed back to the edges of the country.
Over the course of no more than a decade, America has radically switched favorites when it comes to cable news networks. As this sequence of maps showing TMAs (Television Market Areas) suggests, CNN is out, Fox News is in.
The maps are certainly dramatic, but also a bit misleading. They nevertheless provide some insight into the state of journalism and the public's attitudes toward the press in the US.
Let's zoom in:
- It's 2008, on the eve of the Obama Era. CNN (blue) dominates the cable news landscape across America. Fox News (red) is an upstart (°1996) with a few regional bastions in the South.
- By 2010, Fox News has broken out of its southern heartland, colonizing markets in the Midwest and the Northwest — and even northern Maine and southern Alaska.
- Two years later, Fox News has lost those two outliers, but has filled up in the middle: it now boasts two large, contiguous blocks in the southeast and northwest, almost touching.
- In 2014, Fox News seems past its prime. The northwestern block has shrunk, the southeastern one has fragmented.
- Energised by Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, Fox News is back with a vengeance. Not only have Maine and Alaska gone from entirely blue to entirely red, so has most of the rest of the U.S. Fox News has plugged the Nebraska Gap: it's no longer possible to walk from coast to coast across CNN territory.
- By 2018, the fortunes from a decade earlier have almost reversed. Fox News rules the roost. CNN clings on to the Pacific Coast, New Mexico, Minnesota and parts of the Northeast — plus a smattering of metropolitan areas in the South and Midwest.
Image source: Reddit / SICResearch
This sequence of maps, showing America turning from blue to red, elicited strong reactions on the Reddit forum where it was published last week. For some, the takeover by Fox News illustrates the demise of all that's good and fair about news journalism. Among the comments?
- "The end is near."
- "The idiocracy grows."
- "(It's) like a spreading disease."
- "One of the more frightening maps I've seen."
- "LOL that's what happens when you're fake news!"
- "CNN went down the toilet on quality."
- "A Minecraft YouTuber could beat CNN's numbers."
- "CNN has become more like a high-school production of a news show."
Not a few find fault with both channels, even if not always to the same degree:
- "That anybody considers either of those networks good news sources is troubling."
- "Both leave you understanding less rather than more."
- "This is what happens when you spout bullsh-- for two years straight. People find an alternative — even if it's just different bullsh--."
- "CNN is sh-- but it's nowhere close to the outright bullsh-- and baseless propaganda Fox News spews."
"Old people learning to Google"
Image: Google Trends
CNN vs. Fox News search terms (200!-2018)
But what do the maps actually show? Created by SICResearch, they do show a huge evolution, but not of both cable news networks' audience size (i.e. Nielsen ratings). The dramatic shift is one in Google search trends. In other words, it shows how often people type in "CNN" or "Fox News" when surfing the web. And that does not necessarily reflect the relative popularity of both networks. As some commenters suggest:
- "I can't remember the last time that I've searched for a news channel on Google. Is it really that difficult for people to type 'cnn.com'?"
- "More than anything else, these maps show smart phone proliferation (among older people) more than anything else."
- "This is a map of how old people and rural areas have learned to use Google in the last decade."
- "This is basically a map of people who don't understand how the internet works, and it's no surprise that it leans conservative."
A visual image as strong as this map sequence looks designed to elicit a vehement response — and its lack of context offers viewers little new information to challenge their preconceptions. Like the news itself, cartography pretends to be objective, but always has an agenda of its own, even if just by the selection of its topics.
The trick is not to despair of maps (or news) but to get a good sense of the parameters that are in play. And, as is often the case (with both maps and news), what's left out is at least as significant as what's actually shown.
One important point: while Fox News is the sole major purveyor of news and opinion with a conservative/right-wing slant, CNN has more competition in the center/left part of the spectrum, notably from MSNBC.
Another: the average age of cable news viewers — whether they watch CNN or Fox News — is in the mid-60s. As a result of a shift in generational habits, TV viewing is down across the board. Younger people are more comfortable with a "cafeteria" approach to their news menu, selecting alternative and online sources for their information.
It should also be noted, however, that Fox News, according to Harvard's Nieman Lab, dominates Facebook when it comes to engagement among news outlets.
CNN, Fox and MSNBC
Image: Google Trends
CNN vs. Fox (without the 'News'; may include searches for actual foxes). See MSNBC (in yellow) for comparison
For the record, here are the Nielsen ratings for average daily viewer total for the three main cable news networks, for 2018 (compared to 2017):
- Fox News: 1,425,000 (-5%)
- MSNBC: 994,000 (+12%)
- CNN: 706,000 (-9%)
And according to this recent overview, the top 50 of the most popular websites in the U.S. includes cnn.com in 28th place, and foxnews.com in... 27th place.The top 5, in descending order, consists of google.com, youtube.com, facebook.com, amazon.com and yahoo.com — the latter being the highest-placed website in the News and Media category.
- Master Execution: How to Get from Point A to Point B in 7 Steps, with Rob Roy, Retired Navy SEALUsing the principles of SEAL training to forge better bosses, former Navy SEAL and founder of the Leadership Under Fire series Rob Roy, a self-described "Hammer", makes people's lives miserable in the hopes of teaching them how to be a tougher—and better—manager. "We offer something that you are not going to get from reading a book," says Roy. "Real leaders inspire, guide and give hope."Anybody can make a decision when everything is in their favor, but what happens in turbulent times? Roy teaches leaders, through intense experiences, that they can walk into any situation and come out ahead. In this lesson, he outlines seven SEAL-tested steps for executing any plan—even under extreme conditions or crisis situations.
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