Home news The little stitch | TIME ONLINE

The little stitch | TIME ONLINE

If there are sick people, there is a dispute. When measles break out, the quarrel is
      extraordinary big. The dangerous disease could have been eradicated long ago, yet it returns
      regularly back. Sneezing is enough to spread the virus. As on the 11th of January, as
      a youngster infected eight babies in the outpatient department of the Children's Hospital Graz. Since then rises
      the number of infected continues daily. 28 people are in Austria alone in January
measles ill.

The bill would be simple: If 95 percent of the population are vaccinated, the virus does not spread further. Then there are those who can not be vaccinated – babies and people with certain diseases and weakened immune systems. But less than 90 percent of Austrians are protected. How dangerous that is, showed the previous year. Almost 13,000 measles cases were registered in the EU – and 35 dead. "These 35 pointless dead show how dangerous the virus can be if we do not stop it," says Heidemarie Holzmann, a virologist at the Med-Uni Vienna.

Until 2014, vaccine numbers in Austria were not very resilient. Although you knew in the Ministry of Health the amount of doses distributed, but not how many were used for the first or second vaccination – which is necessary for complete protection against mumps, measles and rubella. Time and again Austria was reminded that the data was inadequate. The Vienna University of Technology finally developed a mathematical model to calculate numbers.

The result was sobering: Of the two- to five-year-olds, 81 percent had received both vaccine doses, from the six- to nine-year-old 89 percent. Among the young adults between the ages of 15 and 30, just 70 percent are sufficiently vaccinated. Half a million young Austrians can therefore with the virus infect and spread it.

The low vaccination rates and the lack of data have a common reason in part: The Health system, Some tasks are a federal matter, some in the sovereignty of the countries, for others, the funds are responsible. Data is not exchanged, the rules around vaccination are different everywhere. For school doctors, for example, vaccinations are not routine. Although they have been obliged to do so since last year, this provision has only been partially implemented in the Länder. Again and again questions arise about liability for or storage and transport of vaccines.

Added to this is the forgetfulness: "In part, there is no longer any awareness of how serious this disease is," says Rudolf Schmitzberger, pediatrician and head of the vaccination department of the Medical Association. "The missed term teething sounds downplaying."

The World Health Organization's goal of eradicating measles by 2020 is moving further and further into the distance. At the same time, the number of vaccination opponents is increasing. The group is manageable. According to a study by the Karl Landsteiner Institute in 2012, it accounts for only four to five percent of parents. But their rejection of vaccination has consequences. Scientists at the University of Graz investigated a measles outbreak that led fourteen years ago to 19 patients in Styria. In 14 cases, the parents were declared immunization opponents and "responsible for the spread of measles".

Anyone who discusses with vaccination opponents encounters recurring false arguments. Science has no place in the debate – unless it fits into the concept. Like a study that found in 1998 a link between the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine and autism diseases. The study was fake, the author now has a professional ban in the UK. Nevertheless, the claim of that time is gladly disseminated.


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