Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Uncertain Health in an Insecure World - 13

“The Vaccination Games: Mockingjay”

Some of my best friends are vaccine scientists – call them ‘Capitals’. They'd likely follow Capital President Snow.

They devote their professional lives to developing vaccines to prevent a variety of potentially lethal infections. Whether these colleagues work in open labs or one of the world’s fifteen secure biosafety level (BSL)-4 containment facilities, their discoveries are converted into useful medicines at a higher rate than any other type of research. They believe in the Center for Disease Control (CDC) Vaccine Advisory Committee, despite some member ties to vaccine makers. 

Some of my best friends think that vaccinating children is harmful – call them ‘Mockingjays’. They'd follow District 13 President Coin.

Despite the seriously flawed 1998 Lancet study linking measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine to autism, which was retracted in 2000, they worry. They’re convinced that there is a link between diphtheria-pertussis-tetanus (DPT) vaccination and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). They ignore news of rubella outbreaks in MMR-unvaccinated enclaves of Europe and North America. They just don’t trust vaccination, or the system.

A twenty-something colleague was just diagnosed with whooping cough (pertussis), after hacking her lungs out for three weeks. She saw multiple doctors before one finally made the connection to this childhood disease. Her DPT-induced immunity had simply flagged over the years. Some believe in the “leave it to nature” approach, touting better survival through disease-induced immunity. But the alternative to vaccination is a risk of dying from measles encephalitis or H. Flu meningitis, before the body can mount an effective immune response.

Rebellion is not without its consequences – District 12 was destroyed by the Capital’s bombs!

The 2011-2020 World Health Organization (WHO) Global Vaccine Action Plan (GVAP) has been endorsed by 194 member states as a strategy to prevent millions of deaths through equitable access to vaccinations. Whether through village-centered or nation-wide vaccination programs, millions will reap a health benefit, individually and through so-called ‘herd’ immunity, which is achieved when >95% of a community has been vaccinated.

Many rebel fighters believe that herd immunity is a myth.

Outbreaks of Group A meningococcal meningitis occur every 7-14 years in the so-called 'meningitis belt' of Africa, between the sub-Saharan Senegal to Ethiopia. According to WHO, the 2009 epidemic killed 5,352 people.

That’s more deaths than from the 2014 Ebola outbreak!

Once a disease largely confined to military barracks in developed countries, Group B meningococcal meningitis is flaring up in college dorms. The U.S. FDA and CDC monitor the safety of all routinely used vaccines, and recently approved the use of a Group B meningococcal vaccine after serious outbreaks at Princeton and the University of California Santa Barbara.

But my college freshman won’t get infected.

There are over 100 human papilloma virus (HPV) sub-types; the most commonly used HPV vaccine (Gardasil) is active against HPV-6, 11, 16 and 18.  The National Health Service (NHS) estimates that 40% of annual U.K. HPV cervical cancer deaths would be prevented by routine vaccination of 9-13 year old girls who might becoming infected after sexual intercourse. Vaccination is now recommended for boys & young men aged 9-26 years who may have sex with other men, to prevent genital warts.

Of course, my teenager won't become sexually active.

Until your child is selected to represent their district in the Hunger Games, parents can’t imagine it. But unlike Katniss Everdeen's record, only one tribute survives.

So to the Capitals and the Mockingjays, you have 3 survival options: watch helplessly while viruses kill youths for sport, rebel against the system, or vaccinate your children.

And to all those walking in The Square, I say, “If they burn, we burn with them”.

No comments:

Post a Comment