Vaccine definition - A vaccine is defined as a preparation of dead or weakened germs, or antigens, used to induce formation of antibodies or immunity against a particular germ such as a bacteria, virus, fungus, etc. Vaccines have cut deaths from the diseases they prevent by 99 percent.
Risk, danger, side effects
Children who get a combination of measles, mumps, rubella and chickenpox vaccines in one shot are at a slightly increased risk of getting a fever-related seizure, compared with children getting two separate shots – one containing measles, mumps and rubella and the another containing the chickenpox (varicella) vaccine.
The Gardasil, Menactra, and Adacel vaccines - for human papillomavirus (HPV), meningococcal disease, and tetanus / diphtheria / pertussis, respectively - can effectively be given at the same time. These three vaccines are all recommended for individuals ages 9, 10, or 11 years. The study was led by Dr. Keith S. Reisinger from Primary Physicians Research, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. These are the only vaccines given routinely in the adolescent and young adult age groups. The study was sponsored by Merck and Co. Merck manufactures Gardasil and employs 5 of the 9 authors of the study. Pediatrics 2010.
Pediatric vaccine schedule
changes in 2007
The American Academy of Pediatrics has issued its annual recommended immunization schedules for children and adolescents in the United States -- these include extending the age range for influenza vaccination and giving the new human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, the first vaccine to prevent cervical cancer, to girls between 11 and 12 years old.
The changes in the 2007 schedules include:
Routine administration of oral live rotavirus vaccine to all infants at ages 2, 4, and 6 months. Rotavirus is the leading cause of severe diarrhea in infants and young children and kills roughly 500,000 children a year globally. Administration of a second dose of varicella (chickenpox) vaccine to all children between 4 and 6 years of age.
Administration of the HPV vaccine to girls 11 to 12 years of age, with a catch-up vaccine given to girls 13 to 18 years of age.
Annual influenza (flu) vaccination has been expanded to include children between 6 and 59 months of age. Vaccination is also recommended for close contacts of children between 0 and 59 months of age.
As of 2011, I am not aware of an AIDS vaccine.
Combination MMRV vaccine is approved for use among healthy children aged 12 months-12 years. MMRV vaccine is indicated for simultaneous vaccination against measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella. ACIP does not express a preference for use of MMRV vaccine over separate injections of equivalent component vaccines (i.e., MMR vaccine and varicella vaccine). Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, March 14, 2008.
Flu vaccine for children
Flumist nasal spray influenza vaccine for children between ages 2 and 5 was approved in 2007. Flumist is made by MedImmune Inc, which was acquired by AstraZeneca. Previously, the vaccine was approved only for healthy children age 5 and older and adults up to age 49.
See hepatitis information
Vaccines designed to prevent infection from two strains of the human papillomavirus virus that cause most cases of cervical cancer offer no benefit as a treatment for women who are already infected. The two HPV vaccines are Merck & Co.'s Gardasil and another in development by GlaxoSmithKline called Cervarix. Gardasil vaccine by Merck for HPV virus cervical cancer. Two doses of the human papillomavirus vaccine may offer just as much protection against cervical cancer as the three-dose regimen being used
Vaccinating boys against the virus that causes cervical cancer and genital warts does not appear to be cost-effective.
Scientists have developed a vaccine for the food-borne listeria that they hope to apply to more common illnesses like salmonella and tuberculosis. Listeriosis is caused by infection with the Listeria monocytogenes, which is common in wild and domesticated animals, and in soil and water. L. monocytogenes infection also a common cause of miscarriage and stillbirth. Listeria commonly occurs as a food-borne contaminant. The vaccine attacks the listeria bacteria inside a human or animal cell, but doesn't replicate the disease. Listeria is potentially fatal and can cause high fever, severe headache and nausea. It is an intracellular bacterial pathogen, hiding and multiplying within the cell walls instead of attaching itself to the outside.
An actual infection of measles or mumps provides life long immunity.
MMR vaccine risk
There may be a link between measles-mumps-rubella MMR vaccine given in the second year of life and an increased risk of immune thrombocytopenic purpura. Two small studies have reported a link between MMR vaccine and ITP.
The attributable risk for ITP from MMR vaccination is low and may not warrant a change in vaccination policy. Pediatrics March 2008.
In 1998, Andrew Wakefield, a gastroenterologist at
London's Royal Free Hospital, published a study in the prestigious medical
journal Lancet that linked the triple Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine
with autism and bowel disorders in children. The study - and Wakefield's
subsequent public statements that parents should refuse the vaccines - sparked a
public health panic that led vaccination rates in Britain to plunge. Wakefield's
study has since been discredited, and the MMR vaccine deemed to be safe. But now
medical authorities in the U.K. have also ruled that the manner in which
Wakefield carried out his research was unethical. In a ruling on Jan. 28, 2-10
The General Medical Council, which registers and regulates doctors in the U.K.,
ruled that Andrew Wakefield acted "dishonestly and irresponsibly" during his
research and with "callous disregard" for the children involved in his study.
The Lancet medical journal formally retracted a paper In February 2010 that caused a 12-year international battle over links between the three-in-one childhood MMR vaccine and autism.
Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS), a neurological disorder involving temporary paralysis, has been reported in people given the Menactra vaccine to prevent meningitis. The CDC continues to recommend Menactra for people who run a high risk for contracting meningitis, such as first-year college students living in dormitories, military recruits, and travelers to regions where meningitis is epidemic. The possible link between the vaccine and GBS first surfaced in October 2005. Since then 8 cases have been reported.
The currently used acellular pertussis vaccine may not protect young children against the disease as well as the older whole-cell vaccine.
A pneumonia vaccine seems to save the lives of older adults who become so ill that they are hospitalized, even if does not prevent them from getting pneumonia. Hospital patients who had been vaccinated were 40 to 70 percent less likely to die than unvaccinated patients, or those who could not remember whether they had been vaccinated. The vaccinated patients had a lower risk of respiratory failure, kidney failure, heart attack or other complications. Giving adults a vaccine against pneumococcal bacteria has been controversial. It's been very hard to show that it prevents pneumonia, especially in older adults. The vaccine for pneumonia does not provide complete protection against the disease, especially in older adults with weak immune systems. But it impairs bacterial infection of the blood. Pneumonia is an inflammation of the lungs that can be caused by several different bacteria, viruses or even inhaling bits of water or food. It can be complicated by additional bacterial infections.
Immunization with the 23-valent pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPV) is useful in preventing community-acquired pneumonia in COPD patients younger than 65 years of age and in those with severe airflow blockage. Infection with Streptococcus pneumoniae is the main cause of community-acquired pneumonia in COPD patients.
Immunizing children with Prevnar vaccine to guard against life-threatening meningitis, pneumonia and blood infections can also protect adults who have not been vaccinated. Prevnar vaccine, made by U.S. drug company Wyeth, is recommended for children under the age of 2, and in 2004 alone it prevented 13,000 infections. One reason is that Prevnar vaccine produced what biologists call the "herd effect," where it becomes harder for disease to spread if enough people are vaccinated. With toddlers vaccinated with Prevnar, the risk of others developing a pneumococcal illness is reduced, and the likelihood of being infected by a strain resistant to antibiotics is cut in half.
Prevnar vaccine update - Two or three doses of Prevnar vaccine are as effective as the standard four doses -- and less expensive. Made by the drug company Wyeth, Prevnar has been used in the United States since 2000. It is usually given four different times to babies during the first 12-15 months of life. But new research published in The Lancet medical journal showed it prevented infections in children who received fewer than the recommended number of doses. The vaccine protects children against seven strains of Streptococcus pneumonia bacteria that cause serious childhood illnesses and ear and sinus infections.
Investigators with the CDC and health agencies in Latin America in 20111 concluded that between 1 in 51,000 and 1 in 68,000 vaccinated babies given the rotavirus vaccine Rotarix, manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline, could be expected to develop intussusception, a condition in which part of the intestine slides into another part of the intestine, like parts of a telescope. Another one, Wyeth Lab's RotaShield, was withdrawn from the market in the U.S. in 1999 less than a year after its introduction. At the time, the FDA determined that it caused intussusception in 1 in 10,000 babies who got it.
Vaccine for Shiga toxin
Treatment with an oral vaccine produced in genetically modified plants can protect mice against a toxin involved in bacterial food poisoning. Shiga toxins, which can be released by certain strains of E. coli, may lead to kidney failure in children. There is now an orally delivered, plant-based vaccine against Shiga toxin type 2. The vaccine features an inactivated toxin protein that was produced by genetically modified tobacco cells. Feeding the vaccine to mice protects the animals from lethal challenge with a Shiga toxin-expressing strain of E. coli. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, early edition, April 17, 2006.
The smallpox vaccine protects for a lifetime.
Two million infants each year die the same day they are born in developing countries due to a lack of simple measures such as immunizing women against tetanus and providing skilled midwives. These measures could reduce mortality by 70 percent, according to Save the Children charity.
While a tetanus shot is only supposed to guard against the disease for about 10 years, in most people half the antibodies against the tetanus bacterium were still present in the blood 10 years later. This may explain why the tetanus rate in Sweden is similar to that in the United States, even though the tetanus vaccine is only boosted after 30 years in Sweden, as opposed to every 10 years in the United States.
The BCG vaccine against childhood tuberculosis is cost-effective and should be used in countries with a high incidence of the disease. The bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG), which was developed in the 1930s, reduces the risk and severity of TB in infants and young children. It is one of the world's most widely used vaccines.
Vaccine for Travelers
Vaccinations are among the most important measures for maintaining health during journeys to the tropics. A vaccine against Yellow Fever is compulsory for many African countries and for French Guyana. Vaccinations against Meningococcal Meningitis is compulsory for pilgrimage to Mecca. All travelers to tropical countries should be vaccinated against Hepatitis A, Diphtheria-Tetanus and against Measles for people below forty years of age. In addition vaccinations against Poliomyelitis, Typhoid Fever, Hepatitis B, Rabies and Japanese Encephalitis should be provided according to the duration, of the journey, the country of destination, and the risk of exposure.
The protection provided by the vaccine against whooping cough may wane after only about three years.
Nearly 12 million Africans deemed at highest risk from yellow fever were vaccinated in November 2009 against the virus, which can cause explosive epidemics in cities. The vaccination drive span three countries -- Benin, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Yellow fever is a viral haemorrhagic fever which can cause devastating epidemics, particularly in urban centres," says Rosamund Lewis, project leader in WHO's yellow fever initiative.
Exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) -- chemicals widely used in industry -- may reduce children's immune response to vaccinations.
Vaccine use and safety questions
Q. Is there a vaccine for toe nail fungus?
A. Not as of 2011.
Q. What is your thought on vaccines with
thimerosal and autism?
A. We have not looked into this in great detail, but see thimerosal info here.
Q. I just need to know if vaccination is okay for
children, or not needed as long as they eat good nutrition.
A. Even the healthiest child can become infected with a serious virus or bacteria. Vaccines can prevent many serious infections.