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New vaccines, public trust emphasis of researchers

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

Scientists hope to develop 20 new vaccines in the next decade, but funding and public trust is crucial,

Researchers writing in the Lancet say new vaccines as sorely needed to curb spread of disease, with malaria and AIDS immunization topping the list.

They also note public trust in vaccines is lacking, evidence by communities of individuals who shun immunizations due to safety concerns.

In a look at the future of vaccines and viewpoints expressed by a portion of the public, Professor Richard Moxon, from Oxford University said, "Considering the unambiguous and beneficial track record of immunization, it is perhaps surprising that the public aren't always comfortable with it."

Moxon emphasizes the importance of childhood vaccines and administering immunizations to healthy people to stop the spread of contagious disease as well as looking at vaccine for chronic disease like diabetes and cancer.

Lives saved from vaccines for whooping cough and polio is sometimes forgotten over public fears of vaccine safety that Moxon says is “because there's very little awareness of many of the diseases that have been prevented by vaccines…”

Poorer countries urged to make vaccines a priority

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The Lancet authors say developing countries owe it to their citizens to make vaccine development a priority.

The authors write, "Most developing countries accord too low a priority to health in their budgets.”

Parental refusal to vaccinate children addressed

Adam Finn and Julian Savulescu, writing in the Lancet series said, “Just as we owe it to our children and their children not to destroy the environment in which they will live, we also owe it to them to pass on an environment in which they can be unexposed to the entirely avoidable risks of many infectious diseases.”

The focus on building public trust in vaccines is important. Parental distrust of vaccines raises conflicts that interfere with both child welfare and parental autonomy, explain the authors.

The impetus of the researchers is to encourage the public through research and open communication that vaccines are safe. Funding for vaccine development remains a challenge, but according to the Lancet authors, are "undoubtedly one of the best investments in health."

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons