A newly released McMaster University study finds targeted vaccinations are effective for preventing the spread of influenza, as children in groups including some vaccinated with a flu shot were less likely to spread the virus, even if they were not vaccinated.
The findings were based on observations of 947 Canadian children and 2,326 non-vaccinated community members. The study was conducted by Dr. Mark Loeb, an associate professor in the Departments of Pathology, Molecular Medicine, Clinical Epidemiology, and Biostatistics in Ontario.
“The average vaccine coverage among healthy children of clusters assigned to the influenza vaccine was 83 percent, which was similar to the average vaccine coverage among colonies assigned to [the control] hepatitis A vaccine (79 percent),” Loeb writes. “Laboratory-confirmed influenza was detected in 119 nonrecipients: 39 (3.1 percent) in the colonies assigned to influenza immunization and 80 (7.6 percent) in colonies assigned to hepatitis A. The level of indirect vaccine protective effectiveness was 61 percent.”
Government Causing Vaccine Shortages
The study indicates targeted vaccinations could achieve positive effects, even if there are shortages of vaccine. Dr. Richard Dolinar, senior health care policy fellow at the Heartland Institute and endocrinologist at Arizona Endocrinology, explained shortages are a frequent problem in providing high-demand vaccines.
“Vaccinations have been shown to be one of the most cost effective ways of impacting health care in a positive way,” Dolinar said.
Dolinar blames the problem on government interfering in the marketplace.
“There were 25 companies making vaccines at one point in time, but if you take profit away, those companies aren’t going to pursue making vaccines. We are down to five or six companies today,” Dolinar said.
Government Cutting Profits
According to Dolinar, companies have been forced to sell the vaccines to the government at a discount, eliminating a significant portion of profits.
“We ran into problems two years ago when a product line with the one company making adult flu vaccines ran down and this put everyone at risk for the flu, whereas in the past if there had been five companies and one had problems on the production line, three or more others could have stepped into the breach with their products. These shortages and other problems are directly caused by government intervention,” Dolinar said.
Open Marketplace Needed
Nate Benefield, director of policy research at the Commonwealth Foundation in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, says there is a need for an open marketplace for vaccine production.
“We shouldn’t have to rely on the government monopoly to produce and deliver vaccines,” said Benefield. “Anyone in the private sector producing vaccines has huge restrictions on them. We need a private sector marketplace making vaccines. There isn’t one at this point.”
Krystle Russin ([email protected]) writes from Texas.