Vatican on Vaccines
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Note: If your child has already had one dose of MMR and you are concerned about the using aborted fetal vaccines, ask your doctor to perform a titer blood test to check your child’s immunity. If the immunity is high as the following article suggests, no booster should be needed.
Booster-Shot Frequency Is Questioned in Study
By SUZANNE SATALINE
November 8, 2007; Page D3
Vaccines against measles, mumps and tetanus can fight off diseases for decades, says a study that questions whether Americans need booster shots with the frequency they currently are being given.
In the study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers at Oregon Health & Science University in Beaverton said they found surprisingly high levels of disease-resisting antibodies in the blood of patients who had been vaccinated years earlier. Vaccines prompt antibody creation by giving patients a small dose of the virus that creates the disease.
The persistence of the antibodies suggests that current recommendations for booster shots for some common conditions could be revised, the study said. For instance, Mark K. Slifka, one of the study’s authors, said that tetanus shots could be given once approximately every 30 years instead of once every 10 years, as currently is recommended.
The study found that protection from conditions such as measles, mumps and rubella following exposure to the diseases were, in most cases, maintained for life.
Although it isn’t dangerous to get booster shots, the study’s authors said it may be unnecessary in some circumstances. “If we can continue to improve our vaccines, someday we might be able to give one shot and give lifelong immunity,” said Mr. Slifka, associate professor at the Oregon university’s Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute.
John Treanor, a physician specializing in infectious diseases at the University of Rochester in New York state, said that before the health-care system eliminates boosters, more study is needed on outbreaks of certain diseases and declining vaccine efficacy. “I think this is helpful and great to have,” he said, referring to the study. “I don’t know if this is so definitive.”
The researchers said that the efficacy of vaccines doesn’t apply across the board: children frequently need chickenpox booster shots after five years because the vaccine antibodies aren’t as potent as the antibodies created by the disease itself, Mr. Slifka noted.
The researchers analyzed 630 stored blood samples from 45 patients. With each sample, the authors analyzed the decay rate for antibodies from vaccines for measles, mumps, rubella, varicella-zoster virus, and Epstein-Barr, the herpes virus that causes mononucleosis.