Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Avoiding panic in pandemics

Date:
November 19, 2009
Source:
Dalhousie University
Summary:
Public health officials walking a tightrope between massive demand for vaccines and intense public scrutiny of side effects now have a new standard for evaluating the safety of their vaccination programs.

Public health officials walking a tightrope between massive demand for vaccines and intense public scrutiny of side effects now have a new standard for evaluating the safety of their vaccination programs.

Widespread concern about the 'swine flu' is prompting H1N1 vaccination programs in many countries -- seldom seen on such a massive scale. Meanwhile, media and Internet chatter about side effects may provoke public anxiety and result in a lower vaccination rate.

A new article published in The Lancet offers the first comprehensive, international baseline evidence about background illness and sudden death rates in healthy populations.

"In fact, vaccinations are one of the safest medical interventions that we have," says Noni MacDonald, a co-investigator on the study. "I am pro vaccine. Vaccines are held to a much higher standard for safety than drug treatments."

Dr. MacDonald is a professor in Dalhousie's Department of Pediatrics and a specialist in pediatric infectious diseases. In addition to working with the Canadian Center for Vaccinology, she is a past member of the World Health Organization's (WHO) Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety.

"We recognized that because the H1N1 vaccine will be given to many, many millions of people that this type of a mass campaign is a relatively unique research opportunity," says Dr. MacDonald.

When little time elapses between a vaccination and a negative health impact, there is a tendency to correlate the two as cause and effect. An alternative explanation is that the close association is in timing only and not in cause.

Together with colleagues from across Canada, the United States, Brazil, Finland and Australia, she decided to look at unusual cases without specific known causes that tend to be attributed to vaccines. Background information was gathered about health conditions such as Guillain-Barre syndrome, Multiple Sclerosis and spontaneous abortions. The researchers also looked at cases of sudden unexplained death. These incidents are so uncommon that they are detected only when very large groups are studied.

As a result, they're able to identify the rate that these conditions occur in a given population when there is no ongoing vaccine campaign -- the 'coincident background cases.' With this new information, public health officials will be able to monitor reported cases of adverse reactions following a vaccination program and see if rates jump or stay the same.

The report's authors are primarily hoping to reach health care policy and decision makers with their findings.

"I think the public can be reassured that there is careful thought and evaluation of any adverse event that occurs around vaccination programs. All incidents are taken very seriously and great care is taken in the follow up assessments," says Dr. MacDonald.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Dalhousie University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Avoiding panic in pandemics. The Lancet, (in press)

Cite This Page:

Dalhousie University. "Avoiding panic in pandemics." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 November 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091118160837.htm>.
Dalhousie University. (2009, November 19). Avoiding panic in pandemics. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091118160837.htm
Dalhousie University. "Avoiding panic in pandemics." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091118160837.htm (accessed July 26, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

AFP (July 24, 2014) A so-called drugs rehab 'clinic' is closed down in Pakistan after police find scores of ‘patients’ chained up alleging serial abuse. Duration 03:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Too Few Teens Receiving HPV Vaccination, CDC Says

Too Few Teens Receiving HPV Vaccination, CDC Says

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is blaming doctors for the low number of children being vaccinated for HPV. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Newsy (July 24, 2014) Sheik Umar Khan has treated many of the people infected in the Ebola outbreak, and now he's become one of them. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins