The Trump Administration has reportedly banned seven words from official documents being prepared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The words include “science-based” and “evidence-based,” which are to be replaced with such convoluted phrases as “CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes.” No health professional can depend on such fuzzy language when making decision that affect life and death.
This absurd bureaucratic maneuver needs to be reversed immediately before untold damage is inflicted on the health of practically everyone throughout the United States. Once these words are successfully banned in one part of the CDC, you know the nonsense will spread to the rest of the organization. One easily predicted result: the many CDC recommendations that the nation’s health-care providers consult daily will become so vague as to be useless.
To give just one example, doctors turn to the CDC to know when to give (or not) various vaccines. In the year 2000, pediatricians and family physicians knew it was safe to switch from a live polio vaccine to an inactivated one (IPV) in the U.S. because of the evidence that the CDC had compiled, organized and put on their website. Not only did practitioners know it was safe and effective but they knew to give “4 doses of IPV at these ages: 2 months, 4 months, 6-18 months, and a booster dose at 4-6 years.” This wasn’t a political opinion; it was based on scientifically procured evidence. As a result, the vaccine now given in the U.S. no longer harms vulnerable--another banned word--groups such as children with immune problems.
Making the CDC use vague words and phrases destroys its credibility and creates a toxic internal environment that drives scientists, public health experts out of the organization. And yet we depend on the CDC to give us science-based solutions to our many health challenges--from controlling tuberculosis and food borne illnesses to how best to use car seats.