Sunday June 16, 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.

0
//
“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

Vaccine Doubts Spread Across Social Media Like Disease, Should be Taken Down: Vaccine Chief

"We have to think about it as a disease. This is a disease," Berkley said. "This spreads at the speed of light, literally"

0
measles epidemic
FILE - A vial of the measles, mumps, and rubella virus (MMR) vaccine is pictured at the International Community Health Services clinic in Seattle, Washington, U.S. VOA

Doubts about vaccines have spread across social media like a disease and false information that “kills people” should be taken down by the companies running digital platforms, the head of global vaccine alliance Gavi said on Tuesday.

Speaking at a U.S.-sponsored event on the sidelines of the World Health Organization’s annual assembly in Geneva, Gavi CEO Seth Berkley said there was a strong scientific consensus about the safety of vaccines.

But social media algorithms favored sensational content over scientific facts, rapidly convincing people who had never seen family members die from preventable illness.

“We have to think about it as a disease. This is a disease,” Berkley said. “This spreads at the speed of light, literally.”

vaccine
“A study says @Autism is out of control — a 78% increase in 10 years. Stop giving monstrous combined vaccinations,” Trump tweeted in 2012. Pixabay

WHO says poor vaccination coverage is causing measles outbreaks globally, with numbers spiking in countries that were previously almost free of the disease, including the United States.

Misinformation about vaccines, which the WHO says save two million lives annually, was not a freedom of speech issue and social media firms need to take it offline, Berkley said. “I remind people that this kills people,” he said.

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said complacency, misunderstanding and misinformation were causing vaccination rates to decline globally, with tragic results.

“In my country, social media conspiracy groups confuse well-meaning parents so they hesitate to get the recommended vaccinations,” Azar said.

He rejected any criticism of U.S. President Donald Trump, who repeatedly and erroneously tweeted about links between vaccines and autism in the years before he became president.

“A study says @Autism is out of control — a 78% increase in 10 years. Stop giving monstrous combined vaccinations,” Trump tweeted in 2012.

vaccine
Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam said health authorities needed to “up our game,” adding that she was working with Twitter, Facebook, Google and other tech companies. Pixabay

Azar said Trump was “extremely firm” in support of vaccination.

“If you had been paying attention in the last month, you would know that the President of the United States, President Trump, was very clear and emphatic: get your shots, get your kids vaccinated, vaccines are safe,” Azar said.

ALSO READ: WHO to Strengthen Strategies to Combat Ebola Epidemic in Congo

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam said health authorities needed to “up our game,” adding that she was working with Twitter, Facebook, Google and other tech companies.

“You’ve got to get into the trenches … and begin to get engaged much more on a personal and emotional level, because people don’t understand statistics and data. If you do that. (VOA)