Less Vaccination = More Disease

A long-time tenant of public health has been vaccination. Prior to vaccination, diseases like smallpox, measles, polio, and more ran rampant and led to very expensive and devestaing public health crises.

The first attempts to protect against smallpox, a disease that has been wiped out due to a global vaccination campaign was a process known as variolation. Variolation (also termed inoculation due to the grafting process) is the process of deliberately infecting an individual with a disease with the disease in hopes of creating immunity. It had been well known, even as early as 430B.C.E., that survivors of smallpox were immune.

The first “official” vaccine was developed in 1796 by Edward Jenner. He noticed that dairy maids that had been infected with cowpox did not get infected by smallpox. Using this observation, Jenner inoculated 8-year-old James Phipps with matter from the cowpox lesions on Sarah Nelms. Jenner then exposed young James to smallpox — James did not get smallpox.

Vaccines are no longer tested in this very unethical manner, but they are rigorously evaluated for safety and effectiveness by the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER) in the US.

In 2000, endemic measles was declared eliminated from the US. In 1976, pertussis reached its low point with only 1010 cases reported in the US.

Recent, completely false, fears of a link to autism have led some to not vaccinate their children. Nevertheless, the public had lost faith in the public health sector and vaccination rates began to fall.

In 2013, the coverage level for one dose of the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine was 91.9% and for four doses of diphtheria, tetanus, and acellular pertussis (DTaP) was 83.1%.

Measles

Measles

A study out of Emory University recently investigated whether or not the decreasing vaccination rates are actually leading to increased disease rates. Sometimes the professionals say it best:

Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 12.08.12Screen Shot 2016-03-30 at 12.08.45

Conclusions?

  • Many cases of post-elimination era measles occur in intentionally unvaccinated  individuals.
  • Increased risk of measles, even in those who are vaccinated.
  • Despite waning immunity of pertussis, vaccine refusal was still associated with increased risk.

Less Vaccination = More Disease

pertussis-baby1

Pertussis

*Please read the review here:

JAMA. 2016 Mar 15;315(11):1149-58. doi: 10.1001/jama.2016.1353.

Association Between Vaccine Refusal and Vaccine-Preventable Diseases in the United States: A Review of Measles and Pertussis.

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