Vaccine adverse events rarely recur when children receive the same vaccine again, or one with similar ingredients, according to researchers with the Canadian Immunization Research Network. Investigators analyzed 29 studies published between 1982 and 2016 on recurrent vaccine side effects in children. Severe reactions included seizures and a potentially dangerous allergic response called anaphylaxis. They found that just 5 percent of children who reported adverse events following immunization “had another allergic response after being re-vaccinated.” Fevers, a common side effect, recur more often but were reportedly “milder and short-lived the second time around.” The findings were published online Aug. 28 in the journal Pediatrics.
A new study from the University of Utah found that “religious young women are less knowledgeable about a vaccine that guards against several different types of cancer.” Researchers recruited female patients between the ages of 18-26 at the University of Utah Community Clinic. After analyzing over 300 responses, they found that “about 97 percent of non-religious women had heard of HPV, compared to about 90 percent of religious women. Similarly, religious women were less likely than their non-religious peers to have heard of the vaccine (60 percent), to know how HPV is spread and to have their healthcare provider recommend the shots.” Young women who practice religion were also “about half as likely to have received at least one dose.” Researchers were surprised by the gaps in education and vaccine uptake between groups, specifically considering that HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection: “One thing you might expect is that they might be less likely to receive the vaccine or they may perceive themselves as having less risk,” said senior author Deanna Kepka, of the University of Utah’s Huntsman Cancer Institute and College of Nursing in Salt Lake City. ‘I wouldn’t expect them to be less informed about the vaccine.’”
The American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) recommends that “medically stable newborns weighing 2000 g or more should receive their first dose of the hepatitis B vaccine within the first 24 hours of life.” The policy statement endorses updated recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) in October 2016. Previously, doctors were recommended to administer the first dose of the vaccine during the first well-baby visit. However, statement authors noted that the failure to eliminate perinatal transmission due to the ongoing opioid epidemic necessitated the group’s updated recommendations. The AAP’s Committee on Infectious Diseases and Committee on Fetus and Newborn published the policy statement online August 28 in Pediatrics.
The Trump Administration’s plans to establish a vaccine safety commission led by vaccine skeptic Robert F. Kennedy Jr. appear to have either been put on hold or halted entirely. In an interview with STAT News, Kennedy said he has not spoken to White House officials about chairing a vaccine safety commission for months, and that the panel itself may no longer be under consideration. “I’ve had no discussions specifically about the vaccine safety commission, probably since February…You’d have to ask the White House. It may be that it’s evolved,” said Kennedy. In January, Kennedy announced the administration’s plans to establish a vaccine safety commission and his unconfirmed appointment as chairman after meeting with the then-president-elect. Following Kennedy’s announcement, Hope Hicks, former presidential transition national spokeswoman and currently interim White House director of communications, downplayed the news. “The president-elect is exploring the possibility of forming a commission on autism, which affects so many families; however, no decisions have been made at this time,” Hicks said in a statement. In response to an inquiry on the alleged commission, a White House spokesman said this week there were “no announcements to make at this time.”
FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb affirmed his full confidence in vaccines through a series of tweets this week.
Following an article from STAT News in which leading vaccine skeptic Robert F. Kennedy Jr. claimed he had met with FDA officials, Gottlieb made clear that neither he nor any of his senior team had met with Kennedy and that the FDA does not support Kennedy’s views.
“The issue is one of critical concern to me, and I don’t want to leave any misimpression about MY views on the matter,” tweeted Gottlieb.
“There is a robust body of peer-reviewed, scientific studies conducted in the United States and countries around the world that support the safety of thimerosal-containing vaccines…The scientific evidence collected over the past 15 years does not show any evidence of harm, including serious neurodevelopmental disorders, from use of thimerosal in vaccines,” the FDA noted in a statement quoted in FiercePharma.
Gottlieb has also posted a number of tweets in recent weeks affirming the safety and success of vaccines, making clear his support of immunization.
Pregnant women who hear anti-vaccine messages from family and friends are more likely to delay their baby’s immunizations, according to study findings from the University of Auckland (New Zealand).
Researchers analyzed data on 6,000 pregnant women in New Zealand from 2009 to 2010, and collected vaccine information from a national immunization registry. The investigators then grouped women according to the type and source of their vaccine information: “More than half of the women received no information at all about childhood vaccines while they were pregnant. About a third received only positive information about vaccines, while around 4 percent received solely negative information. About 10 percent received both negative and positive input. Around a third of women got their information from their health care provider. About 14 percent of women received information from family and friends, and a similar number got information from the media.”
Among mothers who received exclusively negative vaccine messaging, “only 57 percent of [their] babies got their vaccines on schedule. If women were given both good and bad information, 61 percent of their babies were immunized on time.”
Researchers noted that one of the more concerning findings from their study is “that one in six women who recalled receiving discouraging information, identified health care providers as a source of that information,” according to study co-author Dr. Cameron Grant.
Another key observation from the study is that pregnant women who received positive information on vaccines after they heard negative messages were still likely to delay their baby’s vaccines. According to Dr. Paul Offit, this finding comes as no surprise: “It’s much easier to scare people than to unscare them…And, the autism story proves that,” Offit said.