Every Child by Two, as advocates for healthy children and families, is strongly opposed to the Senate’s Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017. This bill would make deep cuts to Medicaid and leave people with higher costs and a patchwork of inconsistent unpredictable coverage that would fail to meet their basic needs. Simply put, this bill – like the American Health Care Act passed by the House – would make it more difficult for families to access health care, including life-saving vaccines.
On Sunday, late-night host John Oliver discussed vaccines on his show “Last Week Tonight.” The featured segment was almost 30 minutes in length and reviewed the history of vaccines, their growing politicization and the anti-vaccine movement.
Oliver began by describing vaccines as “one of humanity’s most incredible accomplishments,” adding that “they’ve saved millions of lives.” But he noted that “small groups are both skeptical and vocal about vaccines,” and that these groups’ positions have been amplified by President Trump. The segment included a clip of President Trump’s previous comments on vaccines, as well as his tweet about vaccines from 2014.
The late-night host also examined a number of theories proposed by anti-vaccination groups and the lack of scientific support behind their claims. He noted skeptics’ oft-cited justification for vaccine refusal: the age that children receive some of their first vaccines coincides with the age when symptoms of autism appear. While Oliver acknowledged that he understands these parents’ concerns, he reiterated that there is no scientific evidence to support any link.
Oliver named prominent skeptics such as Andrew Wakefield, recounting that his study, in which Wakefield claimed to have identified an alleged link between the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism, examined just 12 children. Oliver noted that Wakefield’s fraudulent research cost him his medical license and that the study was retracted by The Lancet.
The segment outlined the consequences that can stem from parents’ vaccine refusal. Oliver described the current situation in Minnesota among the Somali community, explaining how the very community Wakefield visited in 2011 is now suffering from a measles outbreak following declining vaccination rates.
Oliver argued “alternative vaccine schedules,” like the one proposed by Dr. Robert Sears, are ineffective, not supported by research and can expose other children to disease.
“Infants and young children who follow immunization schedules that spread out shots ... are at risk of developing diseases during the time that shots are delayed,” according to the vaccination guidelines published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
John Oliver’s late-night segment has garnered extensive coverage in both social and traditional media. Top-tier outlets like the Washington Post, Time Magazine, and Business Insider published articles on the piece, and the segment itself has received almost 5 million views on YouTube.
A study published this week found that a press-on patch that delivers the influenza vaccine may work just as well as a traditional vaccine.
The study, published on Tuesday in The Lancet, examined microneedle patches, which “provide an alternative to conventional needle-and-syringe immunization, and potentially offer improved immunogenicity, simplicity, cost-effectiveness, acceptability, and safety.”
Proponents of the press-on patch hope that this version of the vaccine will be cheaper and easier to give than a regular influenza vaccine. Ideally, press-on patches may also be bought and taken home to administer.
“Microneedle patches have the potential to become ideal candidates for vaccination programs, not only in poorly resourced settings, but also for individuals who currently prefer not to get vaccinated, potentially even being an attractive vaccine for the pediatric population,” wrote Dr. Katja Höschler and Dr. Maria Zambon from Public Health England in a commentary in The Lancet.
“We were pleased to see that the immune response was excellent,” Dr. Nadine Rouphael of the Emory University School of Medicine told NBC News.
This study was the first test involving press-on patches to use a real influenza vaccine, and was a phase 1 trial, designed in large part to show the safety of the study in roughly 100 volunteers. The research performed was not large enough to demonstrate whether the press-on patch actually prevented any cases of influenza.
“There were no treatment-related serious adverse events,” wrote the Emory University School of Medicine researchers.
Regan et. al Clinical Infectious Diseases
Mothers who received seasonal TIV during pregnancy were significantly less likely to experience stillbirth compared with unvaccinated mothers. These results support the safety of seasonal influenza immunization during pregnancy and suggest a protective effect.
Oboho et al. The Journal of Infectious Diseases
Pregnant women are at higher risk for serious illness and complications, including death, from influenza. For expectant mothers hospitalized with flu, early treatment with the influenza antiviral drug oseltamivir may shorten their time in the hospital, especially in severe cases, suggests a study published in The Journal of Infectious Diseases. The findings also underscore the importance of flu vaccination for this risk group.