Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The other class

Deadly ChoicesNo, not socioeconomic classes! Remember, Rick Santorum says we don’t have those here. That’s Marxism talk!

Today I started the second class I’m taking through Coursera. This one, Vaccines, is actually relative to what I did for many years (Microbiology), and it is taught by Dr. Paul Offit, who is an outspoken critic of the anti-vaxxer movement. He touched briefly on that in the introduction video, in which he talked about the three vaccination exemptions in the United States.

Medical: You have an allergy to one of the components of the vaccine, like eggs in influenza vaccines.

Religious: Obvious, but he questioned why any religion would specifically ban vaccinations, because religious books like the Bible and the Koran were written long before vaccinations were invented. He said this seemed to originate more with the Christian Science movement, which says that infections like smallpox are a “state of mind” and should be prayed away. No comment, but you can probably guess what I think about that!

Philosophical: This is the exemption that anti-vaxxers use. They choose not to vaccinate based on their personal belief system. Dr. Offit had a great point in that it doesn’t matter whether or not you believe vaccines work. They have been shown over and over in thousands of studies to effectively prevent infectious diseases. The supposed autism connection has been thoroughly disproven, the original paper from Andrew Wakefield completely discredited, and his medical license in England was stripped.

Then Dr. Offit talked about the earliest forms of vaccines, which involved whole animals for production. These included smallpox, polio, and rabies. The rabies vaccine developed by Louis Pasteur is still in use.

I enjoyed it very much, and I took the quiz. I found myself wishing there were a couple more lectures this week, but that’s it for the week. This isn’t anything new for me, but it’s something that I’m still interested in and it’s fun for me to do this course. I don’t get college credit for it, but I don’t really need that, do I? This is just learning for learning’s sake, and that can be the best kind.


  1. Classes sound fun, I listened to the first two History of Rock and Roll, and they were fun.

  2. Kudos! Learning for the sake of learning is a good thing.

    I enjoy taking classes from time to time. I do some online as well.


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