Saturday, October 23, 2021

Financial giants ‘invisible’ to public health

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Written by Jennifer L. Pozner, CNN

There’s a good chance that before you turn on the TV or pick up your morning newspaper, you’ll find an article about former Vice President Joe Biden telling the public to vaccinate their children.

The article will highlight the Trump administration’s decision to allow parents to decline vaccination, based on claims that they pose serious side effects and endanger public health. But it’s not the media outlet — or even Mr. Biden — you should be reading. That responsibility lies with companies like Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Netflix, whose parent companies are publicly traded and theoretically have public responsibility to their shareholders.

And yet, despite enormous public interest in vaccines, the businesses of the richest, most powerful Americans refuse to react.

It’s amazing to me that Microsoft and Facebook — two companies that have an estimated $25 billion and $620 billion, respectively, in market capitalization — are seemingly unable to muster the courage to strike at the heart of the Trump administration’s public health jihad. Even when confronted with the risk of dealing with angry members of the public, they’re still unwilling to stand up for themselves and the public good.

They have a moral obligation to stand up for the people who won’t stand up for themselves.

Here’s why.

3% to 5% of pregnant women in the US are inoculated with the HPV vaccine, which protects against the infection that can cause cervical cancer. (In developed countries, virtually all women and girls are up-to-date on this vaccine.) Why does this matter? Because last month, the CDC found that preteens and teens are refusing the recommended vaccinations. And while studies have found that kids who are vaccinated against some of the most prevalent vaccines, like the flu and pneumococcal, are less likely to get sick, kids who are vaccinated with the most and least common vaccines are more likely to come down with vaccine-preventable diseases. It’s common knowledge that vaccines prevent an amazing amount of disease — including measles, which was a very frightening fact just a few months ago.

The fall of a public trust has consequences.

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