All Posts Tagged With: "vaccine"
University town has had four cases already this year
After discovering four cases of the mumps, London, Ont. heath officials are warning students to make sure they’re vaccinated against the disease, which spreads easily in school residences.
“It’s not an epidemic,” Marlene Price, manager of vaccine and preventable diseases for the local health unit, told the London Free Press. But she does warn anyone born since 1970 to make sure they’ve had a second dose of vaccine. (People born before 1970 usually have immunity, she said.)
Mumps can cause severe swelling of the salivary glands, pain in the throat, breasts or head, fatigue and respiratory symptoms. Occasionally, there are dangerous complications of the pancreas.
The number of cases of Mumps in Canada dropped from 34,000 per year in the 1950s to an average of 87 between 2000 and 2004 following widespread vaccination, says Health Canada.
However, there was an outbreak at Dalhousie University in 2007, which affected at least 350 students. Many had received only a single dose of the MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella) vaccine.
Since that outbreak, cases have been reported at Fanshawe College, Nipissing University, the University of Lethbridge, the University of Calgary, SAIT Polytechnic and Mount Royal College.
Rare disease kills 10 per cent of victims: Health Canada
Texas is the first state to require that everyone who attends college in person be vaccinated against meningococcal meningitis (also known as bacterial meningitis), reports the Texas Tribune.
Gov. Rick Perry signed the bill in May and it will take effect in January 2012. One Republican state representative, Charlie Howard, lost a son to the disease and supported the bill. But other Republicans saw the new law as an intrusion into family health decisions and therefore opposed it.
Meningococcal meningitis is rare, but often deadly or debilitating. It kills roughly 10 per cent of those who get sick and causes permanent damage, such as deafness, in another 10 per cent, says Health Canada. The number of cases reported in Canada ranges from 160 to 350 per year. There was an outbreak of the disease in 2001.
Protecting university-aged women should be the first priority
Canada has it backwards when it comes to HPV vaccinations. In 2007, the federal government invested $300 million for vaccinations of school-aged girls — in some schools, girls as young as nine are being given the vaccination for free — while women 18-25 have to shell out as much as $600 in some provinces to protect themselves.
In reality, this funding should first go to vaccinating women in the latter age group, who are more at risk of contracting the disease, before focusing on preventative vaccinations where the majority of young women aren’t yet sexually active.
An October Leger Marketing poll has found that only one in 10 Canadian women aged 18-25 have received the vaccine in the three years it has been available, most citing the cost as a big reason why they haven’t been immunized. To further add fuel to the fire, a University of Maryland study of 10,000 young women, ages nine to 26, found that only slightly more than 25 per cent had started the vaccination process and only 30 per cent of those ladies had received all three shots.
A vaccine protecting women against HPV and its effects — which include a host of gynaecological cancers — only works if it’s being administered.
In an Oct. 21 interview with CTV, Dr. Jennifer Blake, chief of obstetrics and gynaecology at a Toronto hospital, said that if all women were vaccinated before they became sexually active, she “wouldn’t have to see another woman with cervical cancer” again.
She went on to say that it’s unfortunate immunization funding doesn’t extend past school-aged girls because a lot of vulnerable women are being overlooked simply due to their age, causing them to believe the vaccine isn’t important.
“Health care in Canada, we tend to think of paid for by the government. If it’s not, then we think ‘Oh well, then maybe it’s not so important’,” she said.
But the importance of this vaccine should not be overlooked, especially by university aged-women.
HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection with over 100 types known. Two of those types are the leading cause of cervical cancer and two others are the leading cause of genital warts. The Canadian Cancer Society estimates that 75 per cent of the sexually-active population will have at least one HPV infection in their lifetime. Most of the time, you will never know — there are no symptoms and it often goes away on its own — but it can be spread to your sexual partners without your knowledge.
And that could mean the difference between life and death for some young women.
While eventually introducing the vaccine as part of the string of immunizations children receive throughout their school years is a great idea, this country needs to focus its funding on the group that’s currently most at risk. It’s a one-time cost for long-term gain in protecting sexual and reproductive health in Canada.
The annual cost of treating a cervical cancer patient is estimated to be $270 million. With the 1,300 expected diagnoses in 2010, the $300 million the federal government budgeted back in 2007 for three years of vaccinations is a drop in the bucket and could save billions in health care costs.