People do this thing where they review the year and they tell you all about how it went. I’d like to do that, but I’m just going to stick to pointing out to you the blog posts I of mine that I think you should read to catch up on all that went on in 2015 in my world. Because, seriously, what else are you going to do?
In January, I tried to compare guns to swimming pools and the ammosexuals showed up in force to defend the guns. Because guns need defending, apparently. I also took part in the yearly ritual of having to defend the influenza vaccine, even if it has a really bad effectiveness record. Also, the folks at ESPN said good-bye to Stuart Scott.
In February, I told you about the people who will be inspired by the things you do, whether you know it or not. Then I told you about how people make a living cleaning up after you, and they deserve your complete respect. And I also told you about Governor Larry Hogan of Maryland talking about the heroin epidemic in Maryland and wondered if he was going to do something about it. (Here we are in December, and it’s mostly the local governments doing something.)
March came around, and I explained to you why I needed my superhero stories to be a little less dark and a little bit brighter. It’s depressing when they try to make superhero movies and television shows as dark as possible in order to attract viewers. Speaking of attracting viewers, PBS re-aired “The Vaccine War” and asked some people to spread the word on social media. I refused to do so because — and I’ve told you this before — the vaccine “controversy” is settled. Vaccines save lives and they do not cause autism. And, speaking of autism, autism awareness day came and went and there were plenty of “awareness” activities all over the place. So I asked you if we were not aware of autism and proposed, like many have done, that we move into a phase of action about autism.
For April, I was having a hard time in a course that I was taking, and it made me think of the two kinds of epidemiologists that exist out there in the big, bad world. In fact, it is that disconnect between public health professionals and policymakers that led to the situation in Indiana where an HIV/AIDS epidemic hit. While those were big mistakes made in Indiana, I also told you about the mistakes I’ve made.
In May, just as I was about to embark on a trip to Colombia, I ended my job at an urgent care center where I was doing lab work and some patient triage. That same month, my wife and I took a trip to San Francisco and ran into some anti-GMO activists doing a lot of protesting. They probably think that vaccines cause autism, or that coffee causes pancreatic cancer.
Between June and July, I traveled to Colombia and got to see how public health is done in a different country. Let me tell you, they do public health very well. I also got to go to a small zoo and take some pictures. I will never forget that experience, and I will never forget the heat. THE HEAT!
Come August, it was time for me to re-visit my thesis intentions after some of the professors almost had a heart attack at the proposed thesis (henceforth “Thesis 1.0”) and what I wanted to do. So I started looking at Baltimore homicide data and coming up with some ideas. As I dug deeper, I was appalled at the statements from the Housing Secretary in Maryland about the causes of lead poisoning in children. And, when the health commissioner in Baltimore invited a quack to gain national attention, I had a little bit of heartburn.
When I tried to tell you about the hacking of an anti-vaccine group on Facebook, this in September, the anti-vaxxers had an aneurysm, looked me up online, and posted my personal information on another Facebook page. That led to some weird phone calls, especially from one dude who kept calling me “sir” in between insults and threats of violence if I ever went to Texas. I didn’t go to Texas. I went to Minneapolis, instead. I was there for a meeting on new ways to do epidemiology, and I came away from it very impressed.
October brought with it one of the most astounding bits of anti-vaccine foolishness I’ve read in a while. A self-proclaimed naturopath wrote a blog post about letting her children live through whooping cough because, well, vaccines are the Devil’s urine or something. This was worse, way worse, than the aunt suing her nephew over an injury caused by the nephew jumping to greet her.
Oh, yeah, my wife and I ran (walked, jogged) a half marathon, too.
For November, I kept it light with a story of me microwaving a human blood product, but then I went the serious route by reminding us that we have forgotten about the Holocaust and by taking another look at homicides in Baltimore this year. I also reminisced about the good old days when teaching children involved more than standardized tests. Today’s kids have it too easy.
Finally, in December, there were some thoughts on death and dying, and I sat on the 9th floor of the School of Public Health wondering what would happen to Baltimore after the first trial in the Freddie Gray case ended. Just for kicks, I threw in a post about the adversarial people in my life, people who just want to be adversarial for no good reason.
So that’s 2015 in the blog world. I hope you enjoyed reading it half as much as I enjoyed writing it.
And, for 2016, let’s remember the words of Pope Francis and (continue to) be troublemakers.
René F. Najera, DrPH
I'm a Doctor of Public Health, having studied at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.
All opinions are my own and in no way represent anyone else or any of the organizations for which I work.
About History of Vaccines: I am the editor of the History of Vaccines site, a project of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. Please read the About page on the site for more information.
About Epidemiological: I am the sole contributor to Epidemiological, my personal blog to discuss all sorts of issues. It also has an About page you should check out.