What Is the Current State of Vaccines?
Measles, polio, rabies, and smallpox are just
some of the diseases that are all but gone in the United States because of
vaccines. Vaccines for more than 25 diseases are currently available.
According to a survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the following percentages of children are
vaccinated against the following diseases.
- MMR: 91.9 percent
- DTP/DTap: 94.1 percent
- Polio: 92.7 percent
- Varicella: 91.2 percent
A 2007 CDC
survey of adult vaccination coverage found that:
- 57.2 percent of those ages 18 to 49 had received
the tetanus vaccination in the past 10 years
- 65.6 percent of adults ages 65 and over had
received the pneumococcal vaccine
- 23.4 percent of adults ages 18 to 49 had
received three doses of the hepatitis B vaccine
Vaccination creates a healthier
environment for all. Doctors call this idea community or herd immunity. When
many people are immunized, those who aren’t have some degree of protection.
What’s Ahead: Vaccinomics
Today’s pediatricians follow a
vaccine schedule for vaccinating children. Scientists are working toward a more
personalized vaccine prescription. This discipline is known as vaccinomics. The
word is a combination of vaccination and genomics.
Vaccinomics identifies a person’s
genes and predicts how well vaccines will work. According to Scientific American, Researchers
have already found that men make fewer antibodies after vaccination than
Vaccines expose a person to
weaker or killed viruses. These viruses are foes that the immune system can
easily fight. After vaccination, a person’s body builds immune system cells to
recognize the virus again and fight it.
People’s immune systems have
different responses to vaccines. Using vaccinomics, a doctor could give more of
a vaccine solution or less depending upon a patient’s response.
Vaccinomic researchers are also
looking into how to cut back on vaccine reactions. Fear of reactions keeps some
people from getting vaccinated. Genetic information could determine who
shouldn’t get certain vaccines to prevent reactions.
Because there are many genes
involved in generating an immune system response, researchers are still working
to map most or all.
New Vaccine Deliveries
Most vaccines are available in
shot form. These shots are a source of anxiety for children and adults alike. The
flu vaccine is also available as an inhalable mist.
The newest possible vaccine
delivery method is the edible vaccine. They could be a low-cost delivery method
that stops potentially widespread diseases by simply eating a banana or tomato.
Soon, a doctor could say “Eat your medicine.”
Scientists are currently
researching edible vaccines for diseases such as measles, cholera, and
hepatitis B and C. Imagine eating a soybean that prevents herpes or chewing on
tobacco leaves to prevent tooth decay. These are just a few studies happening
around the world.
Edible vaccine research goes for
livestock too. Animals could also eat edible vaccines to protect against
Examples of eligible foods for
Each food must have a high
protein level for the vaccine’s delivery. Another criteria is that the foods
must be able to grow in different climates. While third-world countries may not
be able to ship syringes and refrigerated medical supplies, they could grow
plants that protect against diseases.
Another research innovation is in
needle-free devices. High-pressure jets exposed to the skin would ensure
absorption. The vaccines of the future could also be microneedles. These small,
patch-like devices are no larger than a fingertip. When pressed to the skin,
the small needles could deliver a vaccine.
New Vaccine Research
According to a report from Pharmaceutical
Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), American researchers are
developing more than 271 vaccines right now. This includes research for cancer
vaccines. Some vaccines also aim to treat diseases. These vaccines could
provide antibodies to help a person fight disease.
Although wiping out more diseases is a goal for America’s
top minds, the FDA requires an extensive safety and testing review before
A 2011 study published in the journal Vaccine predicted when
certain vaccine types might hit the market. While these predictions are only
estimations, vaccines predicted for approval in the next 10 to 20 years include
malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS.
Vaccines predicted for approval in the next 20 to 50 years
include insulin-dependent diabetes, celiac disease, and possibly cancer. Some
cancer vaccine research is focused on keeping cancer from spreading.
According to the
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, researchers are also studying
vaccines for chikungunya virus, West Nile virus, group B streptococcus, and