The government is planning to introduce a routine vaccine against a common cause of meningitis by l992.
The vaccine, undergoing trials at the moment, is targeted against the Haemophilus influenzae b (commonly known as Hib) virus, which causes bacterial meningitis.If the clinical tests are successful and the government points to its successful use in Finland, and Iceland the vaccine will be given to newborns at the same time as the polio vaccine and diptheria, tetanus and whooping cough shots when babies are two, three and four months old.
Writing in the People's Doctor (and in "But Doctor. . . about that Shot") medical critic Dr Robert Mendelsohn pointed out that the Hib vaccine, far from preventing the disease, is often responsible for spreading it.
He quotes an epidemiologist from the state of Minnesota who determined, based on a study in l987, that children given the vaccine had a fivefold increase in the risk of infection.
Speaking before a group of immunization experts at the National Institutes of Health, the epidemiologist said this result meant the vaccine had an effectiveness rate of minus 86 per cent.
Mendelsohn notes that the experience of Minnesota was borne out by reports by the Centers for Disease Control that cases of Hib were showing up in children who had been vaccinated against it.
"The Vaccine Handbook" contains everything WDDTY has written about the seven childhood vaccines, plus Hib, hepatitis B, tuberculosis and travel immunization. Readers can get copies of this 32 page booklet by sending £4.95 to WDDTY, 4 Wallace Road, London N1 2PG. Please allow three weeks for delivery.