News Scan for Apr 22, 2015

No vaccine-autism link
Global vaccination lag

Yet another study finds no link between MMR vaccine, autism

The alleged vaccine-autism connection has yet again been debunked. In a large retrospective cohort study of children with older siblings, the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine was shown to not be associated with autism, even in kids with an older sibling with autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

Writing in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) yesterday, US researchers said they analyzed data from 95,727 children, 994 of whom (1%) were diagnosed as having ASD and 1,929 of whom (2%) had an older sibling with ASD.

The investigators found that the receipt of MMR vaccine was not associated with an increased risk of ASD at any age and regardless of sibling ASD.

In a related editorial, Bryan H. King, MD, MBA, of the University of Washington in Seattle, wrote, "Taken together, some dozen studies have now shown that the age of onset of ASD does not differ between vaccinated and unvaccinated children, the severity or course of ASD does not differ between vaccinated and unvaccinated children, and now the risk of ASD recurrence in families does not differ between vaccinated and unvaccinated children."

"Although the evidence is already abundant" of no MMR vaccine–autism link, "immunization rates remain low in certain populations and countries because of this inappropriate belief."
Apr 21 JAMA study
Apr 21 JAMA editorial


WHO calls global vaccination efforts off-track

Only one of six global immunization targets is on track to be met this year, and one in five kids misses out on routine life-saving vaccines, the World Health Organization (WHO) said today.

In a news release commemorating World Immunization Week next week, the WHO called for renewed efforts toward better progress. The agency said 1.5 million deaths could be prevented each year with adequate vaccinations.

In 2012, all 194 WHO member states at the World Health Assembly endorsed the Global Vaccine Action Plan (GVAP). The release noted, however, that a recent independent assessment warned that vaccines are not being delivered equitably or reliably and that the only target on track to be met in 2015 is the introduction of underused vaccines.

In 2013 nearly 22 million infants missed out on the required three doses of diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccines, many of them in the world's poorest countries, the WHO said. And many nations have experienced large measles outbreak in the past year, threatening efforts to achieve the GVAP target of eliminating that disease in three WHO regions this year.

"It is critical that the global community now makes a collective and cohesive effort to put progress towards our six targets back on track," said Flavia Bustreo, MD, MPH, WHO assistant director-general of family, women's and children's health.

The WHO recommends three steps to help close vaccination gaps: (1) integrating immunization with other health services, such as postnatal care, (2) strengthening health systems so that vaccines continue to be given even in times of crisis, and (3) ensuring that everyone can access vaccines and afford to pay for them.
Apr 22 WHO news release

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