Tuesday January 22, 2019

Parents More Worried About the Vaccines Rather Than the Disease

“Collectively, this factor is driving vaccine refusal and delay,” said Professor Tony Yang, one of the principal authors of the study.

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“I had measles. I had mumps. I had German measles (rubella). I had the chickenpox so I know what those diseases felt like, and it was miserable,” he said
Representational Image, Pixabay

Dr. Paul Offit is an infectious disease specialist and an expert in vaccines. He’s been at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia since 1992. Since then he says not a year has gone by when he has not seen a child die from a vaccine-preventable disease. It’s largely, he says, because the parents chose not to vaccinate their child.

Far from Philadelphia, along the rugged border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, health workers are desperately trying to vaccinate every child against polio so no child will ever again suffer the crippling effects of this disease. If they can complete this task, polio will be a disease of the past.

Offit says the difference between parents in this mountainous border region of southcentral Asia and those in the U.S. is that in Pakistan and Afghanistan, people know the devastating consequences of polio. He says previous generations in the U.S. did, too.

Offit says parents in his generation were also quick to vaccinate their children.

“I had measles. I had mumps. I had German measles (rubella). I had the chickenpox so I know what those diseases felt like, and it was miserable,” he said

Dr. Paul Offit is an infectious disease specialist and an expert in vaccines. He’s been at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia since 1992.
Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, wikimedia commons

23 viruses, two cancers

Vaccines can prevent 23 viruses and two types of cancer, and more vaccines are in the works, including one for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Offit is the co-inventor of a life-saving rotavirus vaccine.

But some parents are not getting their children vaccinated. Last year there were more than 14,000 cases of measles in Europe, mostly in Romania. Nearly 40 children died. It exasperates health officials like Miljana Grbic, head of the World Health Assembly in Romania.

“We cannot fight this disease if we do not increase vaccination coverage,” she said. “… But we also have to understand why vaccination coverage is going down.”

For some parents, it’s the inconvenience of the trip to the doctor’s office. Others think good hygiene and nutrition are all children need to stay healthy. Still others believe vaccines can give their children autism, diabetes and other diseases.

Offit says persuading these parents to vaccinate their children is hard.

“It’s hard to compel people to vaccinate against something that they don’t fear,” he said. “And when they don’t fear that, what they’ll do is, they’ll fear the vaccines, and I think that’s where we’re at.”

Vaccine refusal spreads

A study published in BMJ suggests that in the U.S., vaccine refusal is contagious. It spreads from communities with a high number of parents who oppose vaccines to other communities nearby when parents who oppose vaccines talk to their friends and parents of their children’s schoolmates.

“Collectively, this factor is driving vaccine refusal and delay,” said Professor Tony Yang, one of the principal authors of the study.

If they can complete this task, polio will be a disease of the past.
A health worker gives a polio vaccine to a baby girl in Lahore, Pakistan, Monday, April 9, 2018. A Pakistani official says authorities have launched a new polio vaccination drive, aiming to reach 38.7 million children under the age of 5, VOA

Yang, from George Mason University, and his co-authors looked at the number of non-medical exemptions for vaccines from 2000 to 2013. They found these exemptions increased in geographical clusters.

Some governments are now making it harder for parents not to immunize their children. After a measles outbreak, California passed more restrictive laws. Yang says parents trust their pediatricians, so health care providers need to be more pro-active in getting children vaccinated.

Australia HPV work

Despite hesitancy in some parts of the world, some countries are leading the way in promoting vaccines. Australia has provided the HPV vaccine to school-aged girls since 2007.

Also Read: Sitting in Cars or Planes For Long Duration Can Cause Blood Clots, says Study 

The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) causes cervical cancer, the second most common type of cancer in women worldwide. It also causes head and neck cancers and genital warts.

By 2013, a study showed a significant reduction in the number of young women with abnormal cells of the cervix and a 90 percent decline in genital warts in young women.

Cervical cancer takes 20 to 30 years to develop. By 2035, Australia expects to see up to a 45 percent decline in deaths from cervical cancer all because of a vaccine and the government’s policy. (IANS)

 

Next Story

Usage Of Expired Polio Vaccines Creates a Public Scare In China

Regardless of how harsh the punishments will be, what’s more important is no more faulty vaccines used on their children, many parents said.

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China, Vaccines
A child receives a vaccination shot at a hospital in Rongan in China's southern Guangxi region on July 23, 2018. VOA

A recent vaccine scandal in eastern China’s Jiangsu province, where 145 children were confirmed to have received expired polio vaccinations, has once again exposed the country’s poor vaccine management and lack of systematic regulatory oversight, a former Chinese health official said.

To eradicate such lapses, Chen Bingzhong, ex-head of China’s Health Education Research Institute, calls for a nationwide probe, in which, third-party stakeholders such as parents, lawyers or reporters should take part to ensure transparency.

“There should first be a thorough probe into the cause of the Jiangsu case, which serves as another wake-up call. But who should launch the investigation? Local health departments alone won’t work because they are the ones who cause the problem and should be held responsible. An [unbiased] third party has to be involved,” Chen said.

Expired vaccine probe

Jiangsu police, on Monday, began an investigation after the local government in the province’s Jinhu County concluded that “only 145 children” were orally administered with polio vaccines that expired on December 11, 2018.

And so far a total of 17 officials have been punished, including the deputy head of Jinhu County.

China, Vaccines

The local government has also promised check-ups on all affected children.

Tao Lina, a Shanghai-based vaccine expert, blamed the county’s online registration system, which she said failed to alert doctors about expired vaccines or registered the wrong expiration date, according to a Global Times report.

A cover-up?

But many worried parents are skeptical of the official findings and suspect a larger-scale cover-up.

The case came to light on Jan 7 when a parent — a retired hospital worker — discovered that oral vaccine given to her grandkid was nearly a month out of date, according to local media reports.

Many parents, who picked up the news on social media, followed suit to check batch numbers on their children’s vaccination history and found that expired vaccines include not only polio vaccines, but also diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DPT), hepatitis B and varicella.

And the problem dates back to a decade ago, which is further fueling suspicion that the majority of the county’s 20,000 children under the age of 14 may have been exposed to faulty vaccines. The case in Jinhu is the latest in a string of similar scandals in China.

Late last week, hundreds of anxious parents gathered in front of Jinhu government offices, demanding answers.

Vaccines
A doctor assists people looking for treatment for malaria at a health center. VOA

Violent scuffles

Video footage that has gone viral on the Internet showed repeated scuffles between angry crowds, besieged government officials and squads of mob police, which continued into the night.

Three parents ended up being arrested and local residents have expressed difficulty in uploading videos of the protests to social media.

On Weibo, the equivalent of Twitter in China, some urged parents in Jinhu to stay calm, but many more shared their anger.

“The government’s credibility is overdrawn and the people’s tolerance is being put to the test,” one Weibo user said.

“To be honest, our regulators are all façade with little function,” another complained.

Public outcry

Parents elsewhere complained of governments of all levels’ inaction to address the country’s vaccine problems including appropriate compensations to those who suffer adverse effects.

The Drugs Controller General of India plans to come out with vaccine specific regulatory policy and a manual for regulatory requirements for commercialization of new drug and on how to conduct clinical trials in India, it was announced on Saturday.
To eradicate such lapses, Chen Bingzhong, ex-head of China’s Health Education Research Institute, calls for a nationwide probe, Pixabay

A father from Fujian province surnamed Lin told VOA that the local government there has done nothing to help this teenaged son, who experienced severe adverse effects from vaccines at the age of three.

“They [the Fujian government] keep patronizing me and passing the buck,” he said.

“Two to three years ago, my kid was identified to be suffering adverse reactions from vaccines, which is extremely rare. If the government can help deal with it, we have nothing to complain. But it’s been ten years, the government hasn’t even tried to take up a [responsible] stance, which I find very hard to accept. My child is now in a [brain-damaged] state,” he added.

A series of vaccine scandals in China including years of illegal sales of improperly-refrigerated vaccines and locally-produced substandard vaccines, which respectively came to light in March and July last year, have seriously undermined public confidence in spite of repeated calls for tightened regulation.

Vaccine management law

Wang Yuedan, deputy director of Peking University’s immunology department, however, insisted that the Jiangsu case is an isolated misconduct of local medical staff and the upcoming passage of a law on vaccine management will help address regulatory loopholes.

Odisha
The case came to light on Jan 7 when a parent — a retired hospital worker — discovered that oral vaccine given to her grandkid was nearly a month out of date. Pixabay

To tighten supervision on vaccines, Beijing released a draft Vaccine Management Law this month and is seeking public opinions until next month.

“I believe, once the law takes effect, there will be harsher punishments [on lawbreakers] to prevent such lapses. Among past expired vaccine cases, the punishment imposed on officials [in Jinhu] this time have been the harshest-ever,” he said.

But Chen disagreed.

He asked why many people from local medical staff to regulators in Jiangsu, who are responsible of tracking vaccine flows, have failed to sound alarm bells over expired vaccines?

Also Read: China Exchanged Data With NASA On Its Recent Mission To Moon

That shows a systematic regulatory negligence — serious flaws that legal revisions alone won’t cure if few profit-driven lawbreakers and officials who helped cover up the crisis have been held responsible, he said, adding a nationwide probe will find parents in Jiangsu aren’t alone.

Regardless of how harsh the punishments will be, what’s more important is no more faulty vaccines used on their children, many parents said. (VOA)