The CDC has released a lot of information this week.
Yesterday they released the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) Recommended Immunization Schedule for Persons Aged 0 Through 18 Years, as well as the Recommended Immunization Schedule for Adults Aged 19 Years and Older. The details, available in yesterday’s MMWR, include a new streamlined format, specifics regarding catch up schedules and clarification of the many footnotes that are included on the schedule. To discover how you can use content syndication to ensure that the schedule you are referring to on your own website is always up-to-date, access the full report here.
On the heels of that report, the CDC hosted a telebriefing today to provide details regarding the number of U.S. adults who received recommended vaccines other than the flu vaccine in 2011. The early release MMWR report, entitled “Noninfluenza Vaccination Coverage Among Adults – United States, 2011” can be found here.
Some of the key points they highlighted regarding adult vaccination rates were as follows:
Current data shows that although there have been modest gains in coverage of the Tdap and HPV vaccines in adults, far too few adults are being vaccinated against important diseases, leaving themselves and those around them at greater risk for vaccine-preventable diseases. Pneumococcal disease and pertussis are two examples of cases where too many Americans do not get the preventative care they need when it comes to vaccines. Read more…
There is no doubt in my mind that the safety of vaccines will always be in question. It’s a good thing actually. Since vaccines are administered to almost every child born in the United States, vaccine safety should be rigorously tested and held to a higher standard than any other medical treatments on the market. And they are.
Consider this. Vaccines safety testing is a long and arduous process.
• It can take 10 or more years and an average of $800 million of manufacturers’ money before a new vaccine is thoroughly tested, licensed and made available to the public.
• The Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD) has collected statistics from more than 7 million people who have received vaccines.
• In 1990, the CDC and the FDA established the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), which gathers information about any side effects patients have experienced. Since VAERS accepts any reported information without determining a cause and effect relationship, this information is investigated further and used to identify possible safety concerns.
• Clinical Immunization Safety Assessment Centers (CISA), which were started in 2001, also conduct clinical research about vaccine adverse events (VAE) to help ensure there are no safety concerns.
• Finally, all vaccines are subjected to concomitant studies before they are approved for use. This means that all new vaccines must be tested in conjunction with existing ones to ensure there are no negative interactions. Regulatory agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are careful to look for any side effects associated with concomitant use before approving a new vaccine.
Despite these safeguards, some people have remained concerned over the safety of the full childhood immunization schedule. Even after repeated reports that vaccines are generally very safe and serious adverse events are quite rare, people still wonder if the large number of vaccines might overload a child’s immune system. They continue to raise questions as to whether the immunization schedule can be tied to such chronic health conditions as asthma, allergies, developmental disorders, autism and other conditions. This is why the National Vaccine Advisory Committee (NVAC) recently commissioned the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to examine the safety of the entire recommended childhood immunization schedule.
To do this, the IOM analyzed all the current research literature on this topic, reviewed the studies and verified enormous amounts of data. After which they reached an undeniable conclusion. The recommended schedule is safe. Read more…
On Monday morning, many health reporters and news stations covered the release of a survey published in Pediatrics that addressed “Alternative Vaccination Schedule Preferences Among Parents of Young Children.” The survey results, which are a representation of 748 respondents, seem to provide a better understanding of who is using an alternative vaccination schedule, why they are choosing to do so, and what influences are swaying parents to either follow the recommended schedule or adopt their own alternative.
As we engage with other parents, it’s important that we not assume that those who use an alternative schedule are opposed to immunizations. In this particular survey, an alternative vaccinator was a parent who failed to follow the exact recommendations of the CDC, regardless of their reasoning. This survey may have even encompassed parents who skipped or delayed a vaccine because of vaccine shortages, illness or missed appointments or, more likely, parents who consciously chose to delay or decline one or more vaccines.
While it is true that 13% of the survey respondents reported following an alternative vaccination schedule, it was also noted that only 2% reported refusing all vaccines for their young children. That leaves the remaining 11% who have obviously deviated from the schedule, but are still vaccinating their children to some extent.
Interestingly enough, I get to hear from parents almost daily, through my work on this blog and in reading comments on our Vaccinate Your Baby Facebook page. What I have found is that many of the parents who admit to declining, or delaying, one or more vaccines, share many of the same concerns.
“We give too many vaccines in one visit.”
“We give too many vaccines when the child is still so young.”
“I don’t feel this disease poses a serious risk to my child.”
“I am not convinced that this particular vaccine is safe or effective.” Read more…