Vaccines Should Remain Effective In Preventing Childhood Diseases
Childhood vaccination represents one of the most successful public health interventions ever, yet it faces multiple challenges that threaten its success, according to Matthew M. Davis, M.D., M.A.P.P. of the University of Michigan and Samir S. Shah, M.D., M.S.C.E. of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia in the May issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.
"Right now, if the spread of swine flu worsens and persists over the coming months, we could be depending on a new swine flu vaccine to protect the health of hundreds of millions of children and adults around the globe,” says Davis, who co-authored an editorial with Shah in a special issue on vaccines. Davis is associate professor of pediatrics and communicable diseases, internal medicine, and public policy at the University of Michigan.
“Diseases that once killed thousands of children each year have been virtually eliminated,” write Davis and Shah.
Challenges to childhood vaccination today include a skeptical public that questions the safety of vaccines, vaccine shortages that lead to delayed immunization, and low vaccination rates among adults that leave the children they care for vulnerable to preventable diseases.
“These challenges demand innovative responses from the generation of researchers and policymakers now engaged in work regarding vaccines around the globe,” they say. “In this issue of the Archives, authors present many compelling ideas and research findings that set the stage for the next phase of efforts designed to protect children and their families through the use of safe and effective vaccines.”
Articles published in the issue find that:
* A social marketing strategy may be useful in battling negative public perceptions about vaccines
* Pediatricians could play a greater role in immunizing adults who have contact with young children
* In times of vaccine shortages, pediatric practices with systems to track high-risk children may help ensure they receive needed immunizations first
* Accelerating the dosing schedules of some vaccines appears to increase immunization rates and also may reduce disease burden
* Strategies for introducing new vaccines—especially those with cultural sensitivities, such as the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine—should address community concerns through effective communication, appropriate delivery and targeted advocacy
* Although progress has been made in addressing disparities in vaccine-preventable diseases among American Indian and Alaskan Native children, sustained routine vaccination will be necessary to maintain that progress
Vaccine-preventable diseases still result in significant morbidity and other societal costs,” Davis and Shah say. As research for new and more effective vaccines continues, medical personnel must optimize the way they use existing vaccines. The articles included in the May issue of the Archives highlight novel strategies for improving the uptake and effectiveness of currently available vaccines.