An avalanche of vaccine refusals, and consequently the measles outbreak in Central Asia is only a part of a global trend observed by doctors and researchers across the globe. According to the estimates of WHO experts, in 2018 the number of diseases caused by vaccine refusals increased by 30 per cent. This led to the death of over 100 thousand people, the majority of which were unvaccinated children.
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На русском In 2019, WHO raised alarm and for the first time included vaccine hesitancy into the list of threats to global health. If the number of vaccine refusals keeps increasing with the same pace, local measles outbreak may well turn into a global epidemic. However, vaccination is one of the most ancient ways of prevention of diseases:
According to Marina Golovenko, a paediatrician of higher category, associate professor of the department of paediatric infections, Kazak National Medical University, the recent measles outbreak in Kazakstan was in 2013-14, and now it has resurged. Unvaccinated people, over 90 per cent of cases, are most vulnerable to the disease. These are children who have not been age-appropriately vaccinated, and children whose parents refuse to get them vaccinated.See also: “I’ll Never Agree on Vaccines.” More Parents in Kazakhstan Refuse Vaccination “Last spring, when an outbreak of meningococcal disease occurred, I learned a lesson about how internet and social media can easily get many people frightened. People shared scary stories via WhatsApp about packed children’s morgues, created panic. And I was right in the thick of it and I knew it was not true because there were no lethal cases,” said Golovenko. Let’s figure out if the concerns of anti-vaxxers are reasonable and what is the situation around the procurement of vaccines in Central Asian countries together with Marina Golovenko:
Do vaccines really contain pork?
In Islamic countries, including Central Asia, religion is one of the most frequent reasons for vaccine refusal, particularly, the fact that vaccines contain pork gelatine.See also: A Vaccine of Discord, or Why Parents in Kyrgyzstan Refuse Vaccination Pork or beef gelatine (Gelatin porcine) is actually used as a stabiliser in flu vaccines for intranasal administration, in lichen injections and MMR (combined vaccine against measles, mumps and rubella). Marina Golovenko:
Do vaccines “kill” natural immunity?
No, they don’t. Vaccines have exactly the opposite effect – tiny doses of viruses get into the body and strengthen it by forcing it to develop necessary antibodies.This is a so-called immunological memory phenomenon. A human body can remember its response to a bacteria or a virus and act similarly if it encounters the disease.
Can vaccines cause autism?
No, they cannot, but the myth about the link between vaccination and autism is the most persistent. It all started in 1998 with the publication of a British doctor Andrew Wakefield about the link between vaccination and autism in The Lancet journal. However, after the check, the article was withdrawn, and the UK General Medical Council revoked his medical licence.It turned out that Wakefield “studied” children that were showing signs of autism long before the vaccination. However, when he was famous, he gave numerous interviews about his studies and emphasised that, in his opinion, children should not be vaccinated with the combined vaccine against measles, mumps and rubella; separate vaccines must be used. Journalists have found out that Wakefield has patented another similar vaccine and tried to sell it through the publication of this notorious article. However, according to Marina Golovenko, this link has not been proved scientifically: See also: Vaccination in Tajikistan: Pros and Cons However, according to Marina Golovenko, this link has not been proved scientifically:
Do vaccines cause encephalitis or meningitis?
Yes, but very rarely. The latest research of such a link held by the American National Academy of Medicine found out that varicella vaccine can very rarely cause viral meningitis, and measles-containing vaccines can very rarely cause encephalitis.However, it has been emphasised that “the benefit of vaccination greatly outweighs the minimal risk of vaccine complications.”
Where does Central Asia procure vaccines?
In Kazakstan, the vaccination of population is free of charge, according to the national immunisation calendar against 21 infectious diseases.According to Ainagul Kuatbayeva, deputy director of epidemiological monitoring of the infectious and parasitic diseases department, Applied Research Centre for Sanitary-Epidemiological Expertise and Monitoring, Ministry of Health of the Republic of Kazakstan, all vaccines imported to Kazakstan have been certified by WHO and pass compulsory test:
This article was prepared as part of the Giving Voice, Driving Change – from the Borderland to the Steppes Project implemented with the financial support of the Foreign Ministry of Norway. The opinions expressed in the article do not reflect the position of the editorial or donor.