American parents are set to lose their right to make an informed choice about whether or not to have their children vaccinated, if the National Commission on Childhood Vaccines has its way.
Since April last year, US doctors have had to furnish parents with a brochure detailing the risks of each vaccine, when a child should and should not be vaccinated and information on how to deal with adverse reactions.
However, NCCV hopes to persuade Congress that so much information is "anxiety-provoking" and time wasting. "Several physician groups note the difficulty facing a parent or guardian dealing with a brochure that they say takes about 15 minutes to read under the best circumstances," according to the Journal of American Medicine (23/30 December 1992). It may be that the real objection is the inconvenience such delays or refusals may cause to the medical profession which just wants to get on with the job of delivering those shots.
Elsewhere in the US, some batches of one of the leading brands of Hib vaccine have been shown to have "lower than expected immunogenicity" that is, they don't work.
The faulty batches comprise some 366,000 doses or 1 per cent of Hib conjugate vaccine released in the US since January 1990.
"Although vaccine from these lots induced a lower antibody response, the precise level of antibody necessary for protection is not known, and there is no clear evidence that children receiving vaccine from these lots are at increased risk for disease," says JAMA. Nevertheless, manufacturer, Merck Sharp & Dohme recommends that "those who received vaccine from these lots should be given one additional dose in order to be assured of continuing protection".