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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Recommendations for live viral and bacterial vaccines in immunodeficient patients and their close contacts

Live vaccines and the growing neglect of adherence to routine immunizations can be life-threatening to immunodeficient patients.  This prompted the Medical Advisory Committee of the Immune Deficiency Foundation to issue recommendations based on the literature and the collective experience of the committee members. Shearer et al describe the relative risk for a child with severe immunodeficiency from close-contact spread of infectious diseases that are vaccine-preventable or from the shedding of live virus or bacteria from individuals who have received a live vaccine (J Allergy Clin Immunol 2014; 133(4): 961-966).  

The risk of acquiring an infection is well known to immediate family members of an immunodeficient child. However, relatives and non-family members who have not been vaccinated or have been vaccinated with live virus or bacteria pose a serious threat to these patients. Complacency is prevalent in society regarding pertussis, measles, mumps, and rubella vaccines. For example, the threat of pertussis to the pediatric population is alarming, especially for immunodeficient patients. This rise of preventable disease is associated with loss of the herd immunity in the general population along with parents avoiding vaccines out of fear of autism despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. The immunosuppressed subject is at most risk of contracting these infections in crowded living conditions due to the ease of spread of disease by aerosol or oral-fecal route.  While avoidance of these diseases is ideal, the parent of an immunodeficient child must maintain a balance with the needs of a child to develop socially and educationally.

Vaccination for common infections represents a major advancement in the battle of communicable disease that threatens the welfare of humankind, especially the pediatric population. However, the alarming rise of non-immunized individuals could lead to a return of avoidable global epidemics.  Close contact with individuals recently vaccinated with live vaccines may cause the spread of infection to an immunodeficient child.  Shearer et al stress the importance of herd immunity, avoidance of live vaccines, and balancing the needs of this fragile population.

Questions for the authors:
What are the political implications of these findings?
There is no political agenda for those who have vaccine immunizations, only evidence-based science.

Could federal law mandate that all children and adults receive appropriate vaccinations?

That is most unlikely to happen.

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