Monday, March 2, 2015

Vaccines, Anti-Vaxers, SOAPM, and Jimmy Kimmel

Pediatricians have been hot! Ever since measles spread out from Disneyland, what we have been dealing with internally in pediatricianland, how to deal with the anti-vaxers, has gone mainstream.
For me the heart of pediatricianland is SOAPM, the Section on Administration and Practice Management of the American Academy of Pediatrics. There are over 1,100 of us in this section, and on the SOAPM listserve 50 messages a day is a slow day. If you are lonely and have little to do, joining SOAPM can fill up your day real fast. And truthfully, SOAPM has become a real home for me, and my admiration for SOAPM denizens fills my heart. It makes me so pleased and proud to be a pediatrician. Practical people, assertive people, inventive people, imaginative people, people with great hearts and minds and values, people who are not ashamed to say, “No margin, no mission!” And then they go out and do the right thing.
So when measles got hot, SOAPM got hotter. Some of our energy has been going into how do we convince anti-vaxers to vaccinate? Some energy into, what does our American Academy of Pediatrics do with the rogue pediatricians who capitalize on the anti-vax movement to sell books and get publicity? Shouldn't they be drummed out of the AAP and lose their imprimatur as Fellows of the AAP? Some of our energy has gone into how the AAP should respond publicly, especially after they issued a somewhat tedious statement once again reaffirming the value of vaccination with zero pizzazz. Some of our energy has gone into trying to get the AAP to revise its statement that practices should not dismiss patients who delay or deny vaccination, but should work with them.
Truth to tell, my practice was always counted among those who accepted anti-vaxers and worked with them. But now, if I ran the zoo, I'd change that. For one thing, the public tide has turned and there is value in putting up a common front. For another, there is now evidence that shutting out antivaxers convinces more patients to vaccinate than “working with them.” But of course I know longer run the Bayside zoo – thank goodness!
But then, while all the sturm und drang of SOAPM dialogue was proceeding, up came a message on the Listserve from James Weidman of Los Angeles – “Watch the Jimmy Kimmel show,” he said. And then came this clip:
This clip made me so, so proud to be a pediatrician and a SOAPMite.
OK, the AAP was too reserved and stodgy. But, is this a great country, or what? In liberal democracies there is a multiplicity of channels and freedom of expression. Enter popular media! Enter emotion, enter sarcasm, enter dirty words! Enter great intelligence and communication and presentation skills, and enter great directorial skills that enabled these real life pediatricians to be such great performers! To me, these pediatricians perfectly bridged the profession's rectitude with being able to relate as lovable human beings, which to my mind is the essence of being a pediatrician.
I am just so proud!
Sometimes, the best politics is great entertainment.

Budd Shenkin

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