The medical community has been raising a lot of concerns over the last few years about the low vaccine rates in our county. The non-scientific hysteria over vaccines, based on information that has been debunked by science and promoted in such local media as the Townsend Newsletter, poses a serious health threat to our community that, so far, we have been lucky to avoid. In New York’s ultra Orthodox community, however, the price is starting to come home, as this article in Vox describes. This goes along with the news story from just the other day, that a 26 year old woman who worked on Fox News and would rail against vaccinations, died of complications from flu. It’s been 100 years since we had the last serious outbreak of flu, and like many lessons, subsequent generations have people like these unfortunate folks, that have forgotten or never clearly understood the price that was paid by not having a flu vaccine back then. Millions died. We hope that we won’t go that far before the anti-vaccine crowd retreats into the dustbin of history. And we sincerely hope it won’t be because they or their families paid the price for their misguided beliefs.
A small side story is that my grandmother became a nurse because of the flu epidemic of 1918, and she ended up meeting my grandfather because of her work. I heard the concern in her voice when she would talk about how horrible it was. She witnessed, in her career, the enormous benefits that vaccinations of flu and polio had on saving her patients. She also saw the astonishing benefits of anti-antibiotics, a true miracle drug to her, as she had witnessed so many children die of various bacterial infections.
Disturbing news that it appears the market for dubious or outright fraudulent cures is now in friends asking friends to fund those treatments.
Two recent reports add to the literature on the use of crowdfunding platforms to support the pursuit of unproven treatments for serious health problems:
- One research team looked at the largest crowdfunding platform (GoFundMe) and three other well-trafficked sites that permit medical crowdfunding (YouCaring, CrowdRise, and Fund Razr). The search terms they used were related to (a) homeopathy or naturopathy for cancer, (b) hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) for brain injury, (c) stem cell therapy for brain injury, and (d) spinal cord injury, and (e) long-term antibiotic therapy for “chronic Lyme disease”—all of which the researchers considered poorly supported and/or potentially dangerous. The study found that from Nov 1, 2015 through December 11, 2017, 1,059 campaigns had sought a total of $27.25 million and raised nearly $6.8 million. GoFundMe hosted 98% of the campaigns, YouCaring had 2%, and the others had none that met the researchers’ inclusion criteria. [Vox F and others. Medical crowdfunding for scientifically unsupported or potentially dangerous treatments. JAMA 320:1705-1706, 2018]
- Another research team searched GoFundMe in June 2018 for campaigns that included the words “cancer” and variations on the word “homeopathy.” They found 220 unique campaigns with all but eight located in the United States and Canada. The campaigns, which mentioned 26 unproven interventions, requested nearly US $5.8 million and garnered pledges of more than $1.4 million. In addition to homeopathy, the most common methods were dietary changes such as juicing and organic foods (39% of campaigns). The other methods for which funding was sought by at least 10% of the campaigns were: (a) dietary supplements and herbal remedies, (b) vitamin C infusions, and (c) oxygen, ozone, and hyperbaric treatments. Unsubstantiated claims for the treatments sought were made in 29% of the campaigns. Among those seeking the treatments: (a) 38% wanted to try every available treatment and use it in addition to standard treatment; (b) 29% chose to forgo standard treatment because of fear of adverse effects or doubts about effectiveness, and (c) 31% could not pursue standard treatment for financial or medical reasons. At least 28% had died after their campaign began. [Snyder J, Caulfield T. Patients’ crowdfunding campaigns for alternative cancer treatments. Lancet Oncology. DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/S1470-2045(18)30950-1, 2019]
Past issues of Consumer Health Digest have summarized the findings of studies of crowdfunding that involved cancer patients in the UK, claims that stem cell treatments were being offered through research studies, and claims that stem cell treatments had been proven effective.
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Bre Payton, a conservative writer and frequent FOX News contributor has died of H1N1 (swine flu) virus (and perhaps meningitis) at the age of 26. Ms. Payton was an outspoken critic of vaccinations. We would assume she did not get a flu vaccination. This highlights the ongoing battle over vaccinations and the predicted outcome of ignoring the warnings that flu is still a serious illness. Port Townsend is a hot bed of anti-vaccination activity and our county has one of the lower vaccination rates in the state. Only 77% of our K-12 have been completely immunized. This compares to King or Kitsap that both have over 90% of their children completely immunized.
There is a large contingent of people here in Jefferson County very interested in seeing this passed. Here’s the latest news on it from Washington D.C.
A new single-payer health system concept will have a set of congressional hearings in the new Democratic House, and a new draft of a so-called “Medicare for all” proposal could be released as soon as next week.
While I am very leery of KING now that they have been taken over by an extreme right wing ownership team, this is a good overview of where we are at now and some of the issues.This ends with the woman reporter describing what happened to her when she had her child. High out of network costs that took her years to pay off.
I have found in my conversations with Americans that very few have any understanding of how bad American health care is compared to other industrialized countries. While it’s true that we have great medical professionals, the actual cost to deliver that care is much higher than other similar countries, the outcomes are much worse. Here is a ground level view of a real patient who fled America because of her inability to afford care, and what she found in France.
This is legislation that will be proposed next week. Come and here about and how it may affect you.
Just like Washington made history when we were the first state to create a pension program for our public employees and made history when we were the first state to index the state minimum wage to the cost of living, in the 2019 Legislative session, Washingtonians will have another opportunity to make history by passing the Long Term Care Trust Act(LTCTA).
A new public Long-Term Care Trust Fund would be established funded through a monthly payroll fee of just over one half of one percent – 58 cents for every hundred dollars in income. The legislation would provide eligible recipients $100 a day for 365 days to help meet the cost of long term care. Advocates, working with a bi-partisan group of legislative co-sponsors, are helping to create a Social Security type system for Long Term Care.
Most of us know someone that has needed long-term care services. Long-term care insurance isn’t affordable for most Washingtonians. When long- term care services are needed, savings are drained and family caregivers are severely burdened.
The LTCTA would give families the security of knowing that financial help is available for the care they need when they need it.
On January 8, sponsored by Port Townsend Indivisible Huddle, Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action (PSARA) will present information on this ground-breaking legislation and we can do to help make it the law of Washington:
3918 San Juan Ave.
5 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
– Kippi Waters, Founding Director, Peninsula Homecare Cooperative
– Ruth Egger, Retired Geriatric Social Worker,
– Robbie Stern , PSARA