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Anti-Vaccine Movement Risking Lives, Says Professional Medical Group in Michigan

Anti-Vaccine Movement Risking Lives, Says Professional Medical Group in Michigan


Michigan medical associations launch effort to increase vaccination. The high opt-out rate could put HIV-positive person's lives at risk.

Michigan saw an 18 percent increase in cases of whooping cough in 2013. Many of those cases resulted in hospitalizations. The reason? Over five percent of Michigan's parents have decided to opt out of vaccines for their kids. The result, according to a press statement from the Michigan Osteopathic Association, is that only 72 percent of Michigan's children and 63 percent of the state's adolescents are fully immunized. 

Decreasing vaccination results in a lack of what doctors and public health officials refer to as herd immunity. The theory is that having a high number of vaccinated individuals in a population stops infectious diseases from spreading within the community. So with dwindling numbers of vaccinated children and youth comes an increase in outbreaks of preventable infectious agents like rubella, mumps, measles and whooping cough. 

The University of California San Francisco has a fantastic resource on HIV and vaccinations here

"Because HIV infection alters immune function, vaccination of HIV-infected individuals may not confer the same degree of protection gained by immunocompetent persons," The UCSF site says. "A number of studies, which are discussed in detail in relationship to specific vaccinces, have demonstrated that immune responses to a variety of vaccines are reduce in patients with HIV infection."

In layman terms, if you are HIV-positive, your immune response from vaccination may not be as robust as a person without HIV and could lead to clinical disease from a vaccine preventatable disease. The CDC, for that reason, has a recommended schedule for HIV-infected individuals and standard vaccines. 

Whooping cough is a pretty miserable infection. Watch this CDC video of a young boy with a classic whooping cough cough. It's not pretty. 

So, the moral of this story? If you have kids or youth, get them vaccinated. If you are HIV-positive, get vaccinated. The life you save may be your own. 


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Todd Heywood