Diary

Superstition and government incompetence = millions of Ukrainians now vulnerable to preventable diseases

Conservatives for Science:

Just imagine the kind of campaign you would orchestrate if your goal was to cause the maximum harm to the most vulnerable members of society.

It would look a lot like Ukraine, where antivaxxer superstition (deliberately fanned by the homeopathic industry) and government incompetence may lead to millions of Ukrainians being denied common vaccines.

AP: Vaccine scare threatens health in Ukraine

A widespread scare about vaccine side effects in Ukraine has led to a sharp drop in immunizations that could result in disease outbreaks spreading beyond the former Soviet republic, international and local health officials say…

…In 2003, imams in northern Nigeria fomented a boycott of polio vaccinations claiming they were a Western plot to make Muslims infertile or infect them with HIV. Authorities in Indonesia are discussing a plan to end childhood immunizations against a number of diseases out of fears that foreign drug companies are using the country as a testing ground. A budding movement of parents getting exemptions from pre-school vaccination laws is seen as partly responsible for a spike in U.S. measles cases.

Experts blame the Ukrainian scare on government mismanagement and irresponsible media coverage of an anti-vaccination campaign launched after the May death of a 17-year-old boy who had received a combined shot for measles and rubella.

Activists including members of the homeopathic and alternative healing industries blamed his death on the vaccination. Ukrainian authorities said they needed to investigate and halted the campaign to revaccinate 9 million Ukrainians aged 16-29 for measles — a leading cause of childhood death — and rubella, which can cause serious birth defects.

The Ukrainian Health Ministry and World Health Organization concluded that the boy died of septic shock from a bacterial infection unrelated to the vaccine. But the ministry decided last month to terminate the revaccination campaign, saying there was no longer enough time to administer the vaccines before they expire this summer and that people would refuse the shots.