Saturday November 17, 2018

Measles haunts the unvaccinated: Number of infected reaches 114 in the U.S.

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Vaccination in the US
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The U.S. is the only western country to have reported high number of cases of Measles

by Smita Anand

As it seems to be the beginning of a major measles outbreak, the toll of infected children is climbing up. Since a large part of the population in the U.S. shrugged off vaccination as a significant preventive measure against fatal diseases, the likelihood of an epidemic cannot be denied. So far, most of the cases of infections are linked with the unvaccinated children and as the percentage of overall vaccination decreases further the risks would be widespread.

Vaccination in the US

Immunization against many diseases is what the world needs and vaccination is one of the vital methodologies toward achieving this. The whole idea of getting vaccinated filled the people with some dread at first during the 1950s, which stabilized later over the time with positive results and drastic fall in fatal diseases observed globally. But as it seems the fear bounced back again haunting the people in the U.S. with random negative theories connected to vaccination.

A collision between politics and medicine has stirred the anti-vaccination movement in the recent years where personal belief has triumphed over science. People argue that they should be given a choice to be vaccinated or else they would stay away from it. As fingers were pointed without any scientific and logical basis, it raised many concerns and the trust in the vaccinations faded away substantially.

With recent reports of measles breakdown in Disneyland and more than 114 affected with the contagious disease, the skepticism over vaccination seems to be starting to wane off. The people who kept themselves away from vaccination, now feel a growing compulsion to go for it.

The anti-vaccination phase drew in a lot of mistrust and created a huge shield of misinformation delivered to people through means of irrational propaganda. During this phase people believed nothing but linking of vaccine to autism and other long-term behavioral diseases, turning a small worry into a bigger concern and cause due to some maleficent reports published in a medical journal based out the UK.

Though a lot of doubts are being raised towards these time-proven preventive medicines and their manufacturers, the question is how could be the other means to prevent diseases then? The answer has many varied theories and explanations but so far the vaccines seem to be the only effective measure.

The only country that now has measles outbreak in the Western Hemisphere is the U.S.; this is not a blunt statement but a truth as quoted by the National Geographic News.

The current public health crisis that the U.S. is going through is the result of its own ignorance and making vaccines look like a medication of mutation. The result: sick people with whooping cough and fever, and tensed family and health department. The dreaded, contagious Measles is back again to haunt.

Why wait for an outbreak and search for a remedy when it is already there to prevent it beforehand. The dilemma about vaccines is to overturn the previous negative ideologies. Waiting for epidemics like Measles and Whooping Cough to return and remind the people of the importance of vaccines would be a damaging and life-threatening risk.

Last, but not the least, the debates about vaccinations are not questions raised against science but delivered information. The pharmaceutical companies need to be transparent; the government needs to be transparent, and they both need to encourage the efforts of science to safeguard the people against deadly diseases sooner than later.

Image Credit: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

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Philippines Loses Confidence In Vaccination After Dengue Crisis: Report

The report authors say it is vital that governments and global institutions do more to build public trust in vaccines.

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Philippines, dengue
Protesters rally at the Sanofi Pasteur office in suburban Taguig city to protest the drug company's deal with the government for the anti-dengue vaccine Dengvaxia, March 5, 2018, east of Manila, Philippines. The vaccine was administered to more than 830,000 school children and adults before being pulled from the shelves after new study showed it posed risks of severe cases in people without previous infection.. VOA
  • The ability to fight future pandemics could be at risk following a plunge in public confidence in vaccines in the Philippines, according to a report from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

The plummeting trust can be traced to 2015, when the government of the Philippines began a large-scale dengue fever vaccination program after an increase in cases of the mosquito-borne disease.

An election in 2016 saw a change in government, as President Rodrigo Duterte came to power.

Then, in November 2017, the French company Sanofi, which makes the vaccine, called Dengvaxia, said it posed a risk to people who had not previously been exposed to dengue fever. If they later became infected, they could have a more severe case of dengue, according to the company.

Philippines concern to outrage

Most countries adapted to Sanofi’s announcement by updating guidelines and labeling. In the Philippines, public concern turned to outrage, which was fueled by a highly politicized response from the government, according to lead researcher Professor Heidi Larson.

“This was an opportunity to jump on the previous government for all their wrongdoings ‘Why did you get this vaccine?’ And it became an uproar and created not only quite a crisis around this vaccine, but it bled into other areas of public confidence in vaccines more broadly,” Larson told VOA in a recent interview.

The researchers measured the loss in public trust through their ongoing Global Vaccine Confidence Index. In 2015, 93 percent of Philippine respondents strongly agreed that vaccines were important. This year, that figure has fallen to just 32 percent, while only 1 in 5 people now believes vaccines are safe.

Philippines, dengue
Boxes of anti-dengue vaccine Dengvaxia are placed inside a freezer for storage at the Manila Health Department in Sta Cruz, metro Manila, Philippines.VOA

Risk of pandemic

“This dramatic drop in confidence is a real concern about risks to other diseases such as measles, on the one hand. On the other hand, too, Asia is ripe for a pandemic in influenza viruses to take hold, and in the case of a pandemic or an emergency outbreak, that’s not a time when you can build trust,” said Larson, who also cautioned that misinformation played a big part in undermining confidence in vaccines.

“The role of social media in amplifying those concerns, in amplifying the perception of risk and fears and their public health consequences, is dramatic,” Larson said.

Also Read: Researchers Busy Myths Surrounding Vaccination

Large-scale immunization programs are in the trial stage to tackle some of the world’s deadliest diseases, like malaria. Meanwhile, containing the outbreak of any future pandemic, like influenza, would likely rely on emergency vaccinations.

The report authors say it is vital that governments and global institutions do more to build public trust in vaccines. (VOA)