The Affordable Care Act mandates that childhood immunizations be covered at no “out-of-pocket” cost. However, many people are finding it difficult to receive immunizations because doctors have stopped offering them. This is due to the high cost of vaccines and the poor reimbursement from insurers. For example, Prevnar 13, which prevents pneumococcal bacteria diseases, has increased in price at “an average of 6 percent each year” since 2010. Currently at $136 per dose, many states require children receive up to four separate shots of Prevnar 13. Because of this, more and more doctors feel that they are left with little choice but to stop providing immunizations.
JAMA Internal Medicine published a research letter by authors J. Eric Oliver, PhD and Thomas Wood, MA, which indicates that almost half of the nation believes in at least one health conspiracy. For example, thirty-seven percent of Americans believe that the Food and Drug Administration is concealing natural cures for cancer in response to industry pressure from pharmaceutical companies. The authors conducted an online survey of 1,351 adults; the survey posited four health conspiracy theories. Forty-nine percent of those polled indicated that they believe at least one of the proposed theories, and eighteen percent believe in at least three. According to Oliver, the takeaway from the survey “is that people who embrace these conspiracies are very suspicious of traditional evidence-based medicine.
Even though HPV is the root cause of approximately 70 percent of all cervical cancers, and 50 percent of all cancers of the throat, esophagus and mouth, only “about a third of teenage girls got all three recommended doses of the vaccine” in 2012. The advent of the HPV vaccine stirred controversy, with social conservatives claiming that more girls would engage in sexual activity if they received the vaccine. However, now some maintain that the “scaremongering” tactics by social conservatives could “literally be killing” teen girls. In support of this point, advocates of the vaccine point to a new study that debunks the claim that receiving the HPV vaccine will influence a teen girl’s decision to have sex.
The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) created an interactive world map that shows the resurgence of preventable diseases over the course of 5 years. From 2008 to 2013, the CFR plotted cases of whooping cough, polio, measles, mumps and rubella that occurred globally. The map shows that whooping cough has resurged in the United States, and that measles is on the rise in Europe. A false study from 1998 is presumed responsible for the rise of these preventable diseases in countries that have access to vaccines; the discredited study suggested a causal link between the vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella and autism.
The Kenneth Copeland Ministries Eagle Mountain Church, in Newark, Texas has been criticized after twenty-one of its members contracted measles. Health officials found that one unvaccinated congregant communicated the disease to the others after traveling overseas. Upon investigation, health officials found also that many congregants had either not been vaccinated, or had no record of vaccination. Though the church acted quickly to immunize members after the others became ill, former members claim that the church cultivates a culture of fear, in which a person cannot have true faith while seeking medical care because the person has sought help outside of God. However, the Church claims that it has never advised congregants against immunizations or medical care.
According to public health officials in England, the number of confirmed cases of measles in Somerset County has recently risen significantly. The affected population (all between ten and twenty-four years of age) did not receive the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine. Public officials are trying to implement a “catch up” program for children in order to protect children, as well as the community at large.
A new DNA-based vaccine for Type 1 diabetes in an early stage trial has shown that it has the potential to stall the manifestation of the disease, and even to prevent the disease from manifesting entirely.
A person with Type 1 diabetes has an immune system that attacks the cells in his or her pancreas that produce insulin; people require insulin to regulate blood sugar. The interesting facet of this DNA-based vaccine is that it does not enhance the immune system, but rather suppresses the part of the immune system that stops insulin production. Researchers find the result of the trial exciting because it suggests that shutting down one subset of dysfunctional immune cells is possible. Read more here.
According to experts with the Foundation for Vaccine Research, the human transmissibility of the avian flu virus should not be modified for research purposes until an assessment of the ethical implications of such a modification has been completed. In addition, Simon Wain-Hobson, Chairman of the Foundation, has called for “an extensive debate over ‘gain-of-function’ virus studies and an impartial evaluation of their dangers.” Read the original article here.
The latest report from the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues provides that an anthrax vaccine may be tested on children. However, the report does not provide unconditional approval for such testing, as it explicitly recognizes that researchers must deal with significant barriers prior to beginning a clinical trial involving children. Furthermore, the report acknowledges that the children involved in an anthrax vaccine trial would not benefit directly from the study and “would face more than minimal risk.” Critics suggest these circumstances dictate against permitting a pediatric study. Read more here.
The Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues recently met to consider ethical issues involved in using healthy children for research about the anthrax vaccine. The topic raises several novel issues, including the lack of direct benefit to research subjects and the unknown probability of an anthrax attack. Additional issues raised at the conference included informed consent and the definition of “minimal risk.” Although the Commission did not set out to definitively resolve these ethical questions, the Commission will submit a report to the President and Secretary of Health and Human Services to provide guidance for future research.