Friday, January 9, 2015

Measles Vaccine Safety

Anti-vaccine sentiments continue to run high in the United States, particularly in affluent areas around the country. The movement began in 1998, when then-doctor Andrew Wakefield published a study in The Lancet, suggesting that the MMR vaccine was linked to autism.

Twelve years later, the study was retracted, but parents continue to rave about the toxic effects of vaccination. Their concerns are reinforced by pseudo-stars like Jenny McCarthy, who add their voices to the din of misinformation. As a result, groups of parents have elected to forego vaccination for their children, and the country has seen outbreaks of mumps in New York,3 measles in Texas,1 and more recently, measles in California’s Disney Theme parks.2

Nevertheless, researchers from the Kaiser Permanente Vaccine Study Center are combatting fear against vaccines. Earlier this week, they published an article comparing the safety of administering a single MMRV vaccine instead of an MMR and varicella vaccine.

The study was prospective, following 12 to 23 month-old children from 2000 to 2012. Ultimately, the researchers concluded that there was not an increased risk of neurological, immunological, or blood disorders from vaccination.

In agreement with past studies, the researchers observed that fever and seizure can occur seven to ten days after a child is vaccinated with an MMR(V) vaccine. This risk is slightly higher forMMRV vaccines, but the risk remains very small. Less than once case of seizure is expected per 1,000 vaccinations.

Although vaccine design should continue to improve and strides in safety and efficacy are to be made, vaccines are an essential public health initiative that must be readily implemented.

Unless we are willing to welcome measles, sneezles, and things that go mumps in the night back into our lives, it is inconceivable to abandon the use of vaccines.

-Luis Garcia


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