Tuesday, May 3, 2016
Blog Post #2: Background Info on Types of Vaccines
Any time an unvaccinated child falls ill, they must inform 911, the ambulance emergency medical technicians, the emergency room staff, or doctor of vaccination status so treatment can be tailor-made specifically for them; this usually involves more testing and more doctor visits to ensure quality treatment. If an unvaccinated mother contracts a vaccine-preventable disease while pregnant, it can cause severe birth defects or even death for the baby; For instance, a pregnant mother who contracts rubella within the first trimester may have a child with congenital rubella syndrome, which causes heart defects, developmental delays, and deafness. If herd immunity is not high enough in a particular area, intentionally unvaccinated individuals are at extreme risk of contracting vaccine-preventable diseases, and they can also transmit the disease to individuals with compromised immune systems, such as cancer patients, and children who are not old enough to be given the specific vaccine. There are consequences for opting out of specific vaccines when the herd immunity is not high enough to prevent an epidemic. I will be discussing two different versions of vaccines and the history of when we didn't have the opportunity of getting immunized.
The Measles/Mumps/Rubella vaccine is a live, attenuated vaccine administered at 12-15 months old and 4-6 years old. Live, attenuated vaccines are weakened versions of the classic virus, so they produce a greater immune response. If immunity fails to develop, however, the live version of the vaccine could also revert to wild-type and cause the disease it was trying to prevent. One of the most prevalent diseases seen today from opting out of this vaccine is measles. Before immunization was developed for measles, nearly everybody contracted the disease. There was an average of 450 measles-related deaths each year in the United States from 1953 to 1963. Once the vaccination was available, it reduced the contraction of the disease by 95 percent. Decreasing the rate of the MMR vaccination by opting out could potentially cause an epidemic if there aren’t enough individuals immune. Between 1989 and 1991, the number of individuals who contracted measles increased dramatically with 55,000 cases reported, 11,000 hospitalizations, and 120 deaths due to low vaccination rates involving preschool children. Contracting measles in industrialized countries can be a very serious matter. Up to 20 percent of individuals who get measles are hospitalized and 7-9% suffer from complications such as: pneumonia, diarrhea, ear infections, or develop encephalitis. Typically 1:1,000 people with measles die.
Haemophilus influenza type b meniningitis vaccine
The Hib vaccine is a killed, purified vaccine administered at 2, 4, 6, and 12-15 months of age. A killed, purified vaccine is a protein only vaccine that contains an inactivated toxin, called a toxoid. These types of vaccines are good in a sense that they have no chance of causing disease, but the immune response isn’t as great as a live, attenuated vaccine. Before the vaccine was developed, Hib was the number one cause of meningitis in children with about 13,000 cases per year; the bacterium streptococcus pneumoniae is at the top spot for meningitis today. Before immunization, 1:200 children younger than 5 got Hib. This also killed roughly 600 children each year, and left the survivors with seizures, deafness, and mental retardation. Since 1987, when the vaccine came about, the rate of Hib has increased by 97-99 percent with an insignificant number of cases today.
For parents looking out for the health of their child, vaccines can be overwhelming when it comes to how many your child is required to have. For the vast majority of individuals, their immune systems are built to fight off the antigens they are exposed to through vaccines, and they build immune memory to those antigens if exposed again. Without vaccines today, there would be an extremely higher number of cases for the diseases the vaccines are trying to prevent. With more parents opting out from vaccinating their children, we are starting to see an increase in the number of cases for these vaccine-preventable diseases. Vaccines aren’t always perfect, but they’re definitely worth it in my opinion.