For some reason, there are folks think that other countries don’t vaccinate and protect their kids as well as we do in the United States.
Of course, looking at the immunization schedules in many of these countries, it is easy to see that simply isn’t true.
Many countries use immunization schedules that are very similar to the one is used in the United States.
Vaccine PSA’s and Posters from Other Countries
Many of these countries are a little more creative in the ways that they encourage folks to get vaccinated and protected though.
Immunization posters won’t ever replace the information you get from your pediatrician, but they can help you get educated and raise awareness about new vaccines and new recommendations. In any language.
So what can we say about 2018 when it comes to vaccines?
Well, we did get some new ones!
approved by the FDA in late 2017, a new hepatitis B vaccine for adults, Heplisav-B, the formal recommendation for its use from the ACIP came on February 21, 2018
although it was both approved by the FDA and formally recommended by the ACIP in late 2017, Shingrix, the new shingles vaccine, became more widely available in 2018 – well kind of – there have been a lot of shortages due to high demand for the vaccine
Vaxelis, a hexavalent vaccine that combines DTaP-IPV-Hib-HepB into one shot was FDA approved on December 21, 2018, but likely won’t be available for a few more years
And we lost one… Last year was the first full year that Menomune, an older meningococcal vaccine, was no longer available. It was discontinued because of low demand, as we began to use the newer vaccines, Menactra and Menveo instead.
a shortage of monovalent pediatric hepatitis B vaccine will continue into 2019 (doesn’t affect combination vaccines with hepatitis B)
Gardasil 9 received an expanded recommendation – women and men between the ages of 27 and 45 years can now get vaccinated and protected with this HPV vaccine
the hepatitis A vaccine got a lower age recommendation – at least in special situations – “HepA vaccine be administered to infants aged 6–11 months traveling outside the United States when protection against HAV is recommended.”
the recommendation to use a third dose of MMR to control outbreaks of mumps was formally approved
the WHO updated its recommendations for use of the dengue fever vaccine (Dengvaxia) to makes sure that only dengue-seropositive persons are vaccinated, as they found an increased risk of severe dengue in seronegative people who were vaccinated
Of the 163 million to 168 million doses of flu vaccine that will be distributed in the United States for the 2018-2019 season, more than 80% will be thimerosal free.
China had an issue with substandard DTaP vaccines made by one company in one part of the country
India had an issue with contaminated polio vaccines made by one company in one part of the country – bivalent oral polio vaccines (two strains) still contained all three strains of polio vaccine virus
If you didn’t hear about any of those things in the news, you may have heard about the death of two young children in Samoa after they received an MMR vaccine. That tragedy almost certainly was caused by an error in administering/mixing the vaccines, and not because there was anything wrong with the vaccines themselves.
Need help getting educated about vaccines? Despite continued outbreaks, 2018 was a good year for vaccine advocates and vaccine education.
There are some situations in which it is very important to think about vaccines before your child has surgery.
“Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13, Prevnar 13, Pfizer), Haemophilus influenzae type b vaccine (Hib), meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MenACWY), and meningococcal B vaccine should be given 14 days before splenectomy, if possible.”
Ask the Experts about Scheduling Vaccines
A splenectomy leaves your child at extra risk for many vaccine-preventable diseases, so it is a good idea to get vaccinated and protected well in advance of a planned splenectomy, if possible.
This doesn’t mean that these vaccines won’t work after the surgery, but just that you don’t want your child to be unprotected while he remains unvaccinated.
Is Surgery a Contraindication to Getting Vaccinated?
What about other surgeries?
Some kids are put on an aspirin regimen after cardiac surgery and it should be noted that taking aspirin is a contraindication for getting FluMist, the nasal spray flu vaccine, and is considered a precaution for getting the chicken pox vaccine.
“(j)No adverse events associated with the use of aspirin or aspirin-containing products after varicella vaccination have been reported; however, the vaccine manufacturer recommends that vaccine recipients avoid using aspirin or aspirin-containing products for 6 weeks after receiving varicella vaccines because of the association between aspirin use and Reye syndrome after varicella. Vaccination with subsequent close monitoring should be considered for children who have rheumatoid arthritis or other conditions requiring therapeutic aspirin. The risk for serious complications associated with aspirin is likely to be greater in children in whom natural varicella develops than it is in children who receive the vaccine containing attenuated VZV. No association has been documented between Reye syndrome and analgesics or antipyretics that do not contain aspirin.”
Vaccine Recommendations and Guidelines of the ACIP
In most other situations, not only is surgery not considered a contraindication to getting vaccinated, but “hospitalization should be used as an opportunity to provide recommended vaccinations.”
“Most studies that have explored the effect of surgery or anesthesia on the immune system were observational, included only infants and children, and were small and indirect, in that they did not look at the immune effect on the response to vaccination specifically. They do not provide convincing evidence that recent anesthesia or surgery significantly affect response to vaccines. Current, recent, or upcoming anesthesia/surgery/hospitalization is not a contraindication to vaccination. Efforts should be made to ensure vaccine administration during the hospitalization or at discharge.”
Vaccine Recommendations and Guidelines of the ACIP
The one possible argument that makes sense to delay a vaccine in few days or weeks before a planned surgery is that if your child has a reaction to the vaccine, even if it is a mild reaction, like a fever or irritability, then it might cause them to delay the surgery.
And you could make the same argument about delaying vaccines in the days or weeks after having surgery. Could mild reactions to a vaccine be confused with complications from the surgery?
Otherwise, your anesthesiologist’s preferences aside, a recent or upcoming surgery is not a true contraindication to getting vaccinated, especially if it is a vaccine that your child is already past due for or needs because of a local outbreak, etc.
Fortunately, this isn’t usually an issue unless your child is already behind on their vaccines and needs to catch up. After all, there is a lot of flexibility built into the immunization schedule, so that your child could get all of their vaccines on time, even with a planned or unexpected surgery.
Vaccines don’t affect infant mortality rates as much as you would expect, because there are many other things that kill infants besides vaccine-preventable diseases. Things like birth defects, prematurity, injuries and complications during pregnancy.
“It may come as no surprise to many that the Japanese Government banned a number of vaccines that are currently mandatory in the United States and has strict regulations in place for other Big Pharma drugs and vaccines in general.”
Jay Greenberg on Anti-Vaccine Japan Has World’s Lowest Child Death Rate, Highest Life Expectancy
Japan is not anti-vaccine. Although their immunization schedule is certainly a lot more complicated than ours, they give many of the same vaccines as every other developed country.
“Following a record number of children developing adverse reactions, including meningitis, loss of limbs, and even sudden death, the Japanese government banned the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine from its vaccination program, despite facing serious opposition from Big Pharma.”
Was the MMR vaccine banned in Japan?
The MMR vaccine was introduced in Japan in 1989, and four years later, the government withdrew its recommendation for the vaccine.
Why? Reports of aseptic meningitis. This was likely due to the Urabe strain of the mumps component in their MMR vaccine, which was not used in the United States.
“The data up to now have revealed low rates of aseptic meningitis and no cases of virologically proven meningitis following the use of Jeryl–Lynn and RIT 4385 strains.”
WHO on Safety of mumps vaccine strains
They didn’t ban the vaccine or vaccination though.
They returned to giving children separate measles, rubella, and mumps (optional) vaccines. Tragically, because many kids didn’t get vaccinated against mumps, the rate of aseptic meningitis from people who actually got mumps was 25 times higher than the rate from the MMR vaccine!
“Due directly to these gaps in ‘herd’ immunization resulting from politicized transitions in vaccination policy by the government, there were outbreaks of rubella with 17,050 cases reported between the years of 2012 and 2014, and 45 cases of congenital rubella syndrome reported to the National Epidemiological Surveillance of Infectious Diseases from week 1, 2012 to week 40, 2014.”
Yusuke Tanaka on History repeats itself in Japan: Failure to learn from rubella epidemic leads to failure to provide the HPV vaccine
That’s no surprise to those who remember what happened in 1975, when routine pertussis vaccinations were halted in Japan following the deaths of two children. That eventually lead to epidemic cases of whooping cough in the country and at least 41 deaths in children (in 1979) before the vaccine was restarted.
Unfortunately, once they moved to DTaP vaccines, they started to see an increase in allergic reactions after kids got their MMR vaccine. Why? Their version of the DTaP vaccine contained poorly hydrolyzed bovine gelatin, which likely sensitized infants, who then developed an allergic reaction after getting an MMR vaccine with gelatin. While gelatin was removed from their DTaP vaccines, these extra side effects likely scared some folks in Japan.
Japan’s Vaccine Problem
Japan has more vaccine-preventable diseases than many other industrial countries.
Is it because Japan is anti-vaccine?
Of course not.
By impulsively halting and withdrawing vaccines, the Japanese government has done a good job of scaring folks though. They have also been very slow to introduce new vaccines, although they are catching up, as hepatitis, B, rotavirus, Hib, pneumococcal, meningococcal, HPV, and the chicken pox vaccine are all now available in Japan.
Have there been any benefits?
They might have lower infant mortality rates, but that has nothing to do with vaccines.
There is no correlation between the number of vaccines that a country gives and their infant mortality rate.
With higher rates of vaccine-preventable disease and deaths from vaccine-preventable diseases, especially right after they impulsively halt a vaccine, Japan’s vaccine history simply demonstrates that vaccines work and that they are still very necessary.
One thing is true though. Japan’s infant mortality rate has been dropping, but then so has the infant mortality rate in almost all other countries, including the United States, which is at record low levels.
It certainly isn’t true that Japan’s infant mortality rate started to drop following a ban on mandatory vaccinations. How do we know that? Like many other countries, Japan has never had mandatory vaccinations. And not surprisingly, their infant mortality rate has continued to drop as they have added more vaccines and improved their immunization rates.