As we observe the seventh annual World Pneumonia Day, individuals and organizations from around the world are coming together once again to raise awareness about pneumonia and make sure that every breath counts.
Pneumonia is a Leading Killer
Each year there are approximately 900,000 deaths in children under the age of five from pneumonia across the globe.
While 51% of these deaths occur in only 6 countries, pneumonia isn’t just a threat to children in third world countries. The CDC reported that pneumonia is the leading infectious cause of hospitalizations and deaths in U.S. adults, costing more than $10 billion in 2011 alone.
Many factors contribute to pneumonia, and so there are many ways we can work to help prevent, treat and control this disease. Consider the following five simple but effective interventions.
Vaccines are Key to the Fight Against Pneumonia
Vaccines against whooping cough (pertussis), measles, Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) and pneumococcus can all help reduce the incidence of pneumonia. However, for many of the world’s population, the issue is one of access.
As Dr. Orin Levine, Director of Vaccine Delivery at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation explains in his Huffington Post article,
“Thankfully, 132 countries have introduced a vaccine to protect against pneumonia. In fact, it was within months of the first World Pneumonia Day that the very first developing country—Rwanda—rolled out the pneumococcal vaccine with support from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. In addition, the world’s 73 poorest countries have all introduced the pentavalent vaccine—which protects against Hib, another major cause of pneumonia—again with Gavi support.”
While this is amazing progress, Dr. Levine goes on to explain that an estimated 51% of the world’s infants live in countries that do not offer access to pneumococcal vaccines. Of course, getting vaccines to these children must be a top priority. Read more…
A new study published in Pediatrics examines the characteristics of doctors who dismiss families for refusing vaccines for their children.
While almost all of the 534 pediatricians and family physicians who were surveyed for the study have encountered parents who refuse vaccines, the survey also indicated that vaccine refusal is generally rare. Overall, 83% of doctors reported that 1% or fewer parents refuse one or more infant vaccines in a typical month.
When that happens, 21% of pediatricians and 4% of family physicians said they “always” or “often” dismiss these families, and 51% reported “always” or “often” requiring parents to sign a form if they refused. However, there were some doctors who estimated that vaccine refusal in their practices were between 1% to 4% of parents they encountered and some saying as many as 5% of parents they saw refused vaccines.
Although the survey was conducted in 2012, it has been published in a year when people are increasingly frustrated by recurring outbreaks of vaccine preventable diseases. For instance, following the well publicized measles outbreaks that occurred in Disneyland late last year, there has been a surge of public support for strong immunization policies that favor vaccination for school children, daycare workers and healthcare employees. This swell of public support has often been discussed as the catalyst for the record number of new legislative bills that were introduced this year in an attempt to reduce school vaccine exemptions and boost childhood vaccination rates in various states across the country. While there is a general consensus that more needs to be done to educate parents about the benefits of vaccines, the question of whether doctors should refuse patients who decline vaccines is an ongoing debate that has drawn a great deal of commendation and criticism.
Both the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the CDC discourage physicians from refusing to see patients who refuse vaccines. Instead, they have tried to urge physicians to continue to treat these children in hopes that an ongoing relationship with these parents will help build the kind of trust that may eventually lead them to reconsider their vaccination choices for their children.
Meanwhile, doctors who refuse unvaccinated patients have various reasons for doing so.
Since outbreaks of meningococcal serogroup B began occurring on various college campuses late last year, resulting in several student deaths, there has been a lot of interest in a new meningococcal serogroup B vaccine. One of the biggest challenges that have come along with the introduction of this new vaccine is that parents are confused about the offering of two different meningococcal vaccines that prevent various strains of meningococcal disease.
To complicate matters, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) issued a “permissive recommendation” for the new serogroup B vaccine, which many suggest will make doctors less likely to recommend the vaccine to all their patients, but will allow parents to request the vaccine for their child.
Fortunately, Dr. William Schaffner wrote an excellent article for the National Foundation of Infectious Diseases (NFID) that we have reblogged below that provides a thorough explanation of meningococcal disease, the different meningococcal vaccines that are available to patients, and the facts parents need to know to make an educated immunization plan for their child.
Originally posted on NFID News:
Special thanks to William Schaffner, MD, NFID Medical Director and Professor of Preventive Medicine and Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, for this guest blog post on the recently published Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) meningococcal serogroup B immunization recommendation.
Parents usually rely on their child’s pediatrician to keep them up-to-date on vaccines. But the updated meningococcal vaccine recommendation recently issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is different. The new recommendation paves the way for adolescents and young adults to get vaccinated against a rare, but deadly infection called serogroup B meningococcal disease–but it puts more responsibility on parents to seek and request the vaccine.
Meningococcal disease is a bacterial infection that causes meningitis (brain swelling) or sepsis (blood infection). Serogroup B is just one of several types of bacteria that cause the disease. Four other serogroups (A, C, W, and Y) are…
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Right now, we need the voice of constituents to help support our nation’s immunization infrastructure.
Every Child By Two, as one of the founding members of the 317 Coalition, has been actively engaged with other leaders in the immunization community in advocating for federal appropriations to support our nation’s immunization infrastructure. The focus of the 317 Coalition is to ensure that Congress adequately funds vaccine activities at the national, state and local levels.
However, as budgets continue to dwindle, legislators need to hear from constituents, like yourself, who agree that funding for vaccines is the most cost-effective health intervention known to mankind. That is why Every Child By Two is encouraging everyone to take action and contact your federal representatives in support of robust funding in the FY 2016 Labor-HHS-ED appropriations bill for the CDC’s Section 317 Immunization program.
The majority of Section 317 program funds, over 75%, are used to support critical infrastructure functions such as vaccine effectiveness studies, disease surveillance, outbreak detection and response, vaccine coverage assessment, vaccine safety and provider education programming. A smaller portion supports vaccine purchases for adult immunization programs that help to achieve high vaccination coverage, reduce health disparities among various populations, and provide underserved populations with vaccines to protect them from disease. Quite simply, the mission of the coalition is to educate Members of Congress about the needs of the CDC immunization program, and not make or attempt to influence immunization policy.
Our nation was fortunate that the 317 program was funded at $611 million in FY 2015. Looking ahead, the House of Representatives has proposed to reduce funding of the program to $585.5 million in FY 2016, while the Senate maintains level funding at $611 million. If the program were to be funded at the House’s proposed funding level, the reduction in funding of over $25 million would most certainly harm the immunization infrastructure, as well as reduce adult vaccine purchase functions in every state.