I can’t talk about the role HPV vaccines to prevent cervical cancer without taking into account other types of vaccine currently drawing flaks (MMR vaccine, dengue vaccine) from a small groups of people who are either ignorant, irresponsible or simply less clever.
In one corner, there is a group of ignorant parents who are sharing anecdotal examples of vaccines’ harm sourced from Youtube video, FB shared articles or Whatapps forwards, which are far from reliable.
When facts are presented or explained to them by healthcare providers, the chose not to believe.
I had also encountered some who actually believe the benefits of vaccine but prefer others to be vaccinated instead in order for them to benefit from ‘herd immunity’.
They want others to take the ‘risks’ and they benefit from it.
Herd immunity is a form of immunity that occurs when the vaccination of a significant portion of a population (or herd) provides a measure of protection for individuals who have not developed immunity. For herd immunity to work, 95% population the must be vaccinated in order to protect the entire population.
The last group are those without any knowledge of medical advancement around them, those who refuse to learn and those who eschew the olden day living (with mindset akin living in the cave).
Their argument is that people still able to survive without vaccine hundreds of years ago. They just didn’t mention the average lifespan was just around 30-35 years only.
It is estimated that, each year worldwide, vaccines prevent up to 3 million deaths.
In 1980, vaccination was responsible for the global eradication of smallpox for the first time in history. Vaccination has also led to the elimination of wild-type poliovirus in the Americas in 1990, in the Western Pacific Region in 2000, and in the European Region in 2002, and to the elimination of Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib) within a few years of introduction of conjugate Hib vaccines in many countries (V Rémy, 2015).
Vaccines, during their development phase underwent stringent testing in labs, multiple phases of clinical trials involving human to confirm effectiveness and safety (see graphic below).
Once approval is obtained, vaccines are still continuously evaluated via post-marketing safety reporting and reviews.
MMR vaccine was introduced in 1971 (almost 50 years!); immunisation vaccine against measles, mumps, and rubella.
It is a mixture of live attenuated (reducing the virulence of a pathogen, taking an infectious agent and alters it so that it becomes harmless) viruses of the three diseases, administered via injection.
Measles vaccination resulted in a 84% drop in measles deaths between 2000 and 2016 worldwide (WHO). Below are US data regarding death in measles, mumps and rubella.
The main concern which discourages parents from vaccinating their child is the worry of autism after vaccination.
The fraudulent claim regarding vaccination-linked autism was rebuked but the damage was done, leading to slight decline in vaccination.
Subsequent studies found no association between vaccine and autism.
- Until May 31 this year, there are 724 cases of measles nationwide compared to 592 cases for the same period last year, 22.3% increase.
- For the period between September 2017 and February 2018, Malaysia ranks 10th place for countries with the highest number of measles cases after the Philippines and China
- In 2016, the MMR immunisation coverage on 12-month-old babies stood at 94.37 per cent and it dropped to 92.08 per cent in 2017 (around 1 in 10 babies not immunised).
Actually, if MMR vaccine is harmful or even slight possibility of causing harm, it will be withdrawn immediately and won’t be continued from 1970s until now!
Plus, how many autism cases seen from millions of children who underwent vaccination since 1970s?
The first vaccine against dengue infection is Dengvaxia (Sanofi Pasteur), a live, attenuated tetravalent vaccine.
Following two phase 3 clinical trials published in 2014 (approved for people aged 9–45 years, reduction in severe dengue of 93% and of hospital admissions due to dengue of 82%), Dengvaxia was licenced in December, 2015, and approved in 19 countries.
Subsequently, regional mass vaccination programmes were launched in the Philippines and Brazil, targeting 1 million people.
However, vaccination programme in Philippines had been suspended after reassessment of data from the clinical trials showed possibility of increase the risk of severe dengue in particular circumstances.
- Vaccine recipients who are seropositive at immunisation had sustained protection during 5 years’ follow-up.
- Amongst recipients who are seronegative before immunisation—and regardless of age at vaccination—there was a higher risk of severe dengue disease and hospital admission compared with unvaccinated controls.
- Thus, in seronegative individuals, the vaccine seems to enhance the severity of subsequent dengue infection (LID The, 2018)
WHO statement notes that in settings of high dengue seroprevalence, the vaccine is likely still beneficial at a population level but “ethically no one should have been put under risk by receiving this vaccine” (M Aguiar, 2016).
‘Anti-vaxxer’ or those against vaccination will see the above event as the danger of vaccination.
I have contrarian view instead.
The above review or suspension reflect the strict and high standard of vaccination programme, post marketing surveillance, safety monitoring and prompt response to the slightest risk to the population.
So, if you’re now interested to know more how HPV vaccination can help to prevent cervical cancer, please continue reading here ~ HPV Vaccination: Preventing Cervical Cancer (II).
Thinking outside the box?