According to the report by Centers for Disease control and prevention (CDC), 102 US citizens from 14 different states were diagnosed with measles in January of 2015. Most cases are part of a large, ongoing multi-state outbreak linked by it’s origin to an amusement park in California. Tragically, within these cases are also kids too young for prentive vaccination. This fact should encourage us to ask questions like: what are the major factors of these outbreaks? How come that USA, an advanced and well-developed country, experiences public health threats more expected to be present in third wold countries? Are we lacking necessary knowledge (i.e. the theoretical and applied research), or the ability to apply knowledge we already have (e.g. effective execution of prevention programs)? In this blog post, we will investigate these two questions.
Looking at the body of research on various vaccine-preventable diseases, we can see the highest number of publications for measles vaccines, followed closely by tetanus.
The number of citations for measles, tetanus, yellow fever and pertussis is rising at steady rate, and again, dominated by research on measles vaccination. We can see, that there was a significant rise of citations regarding smallpox vaccination in 2011. This was mainly caused by progressive research on new generation smallpox vaccines, that triggered a number of review publications for the topic of “smallpox eradication”.
Form presented data it’s clear, that the global research on measles vaccination is dominating global vaccination research, which as a paradigm, is flourishing and constantly growing in size. So the global research is there, but what part in it plays the research housed by USA? Well, based on graph below, it seems the USA funded research plays the prime. USA with 1406 publications, is the top country in the number of published scientific papers on measles vaccination. This is more than 3 times the number of publications in the UK , holding the second place.
This is somehow sad. Although most of the global research on measles vaccination is done in United States, this is the country currently fighting the worst outbreak of measles in past 25 years. As presented above, the lack of relevant research or scientific knowledge is most likely not a factor in current events. The strongest factors supporting recent measles outbreaks are an ineffective execution of vaccination programs and dangerously growing popularity of anti-vaccination movement.
One of the major causes of positive growth of anti-vaccination movement is the fact, that the existing body of research is hard to access and even harder to understand by general public. Excluding a handful of experts from their paradigms, people have no time, no resources, nor the professional training to read through or make sense of published scientific literature. Usually, people use to build their opinion (e.g. on vaccination) on few published papers they have selectively chosen to read. Such sampling of literature often is even more counterproductive, as it gives person a false notion, that their opinion is reflecting opinions of scientific community in general.
If you want to investigate true nature of research on measles vaccination, here is where to start:
The most of articles regarding this topic are published in journal: Vaccine. If you search for authors worth reading, the authors with the highest rate of contribution to this research are Centers for Disease Control and Prevention followed by Gregory A. Poland. However, if you click on graph below, you can see, that there is a lot of other expers with nearly similar number of published papers.
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