Unintended Benefits of Vaccines

Unintended Benefits of Vaccines

I had a patient recently who was quite surprised that he could have serious illness for no discernible reason. The idea that health and disease came down to random bad luck was foreign to him. There had to be a reason, diet or a lack of a supplement, that led to his illness. 

Nope. Badness happens.

I wonder if that is one of the reasons that drive people to pseudo-medical providers: the belief that the body is a perfect machine that only falters when it is not correctly maintained. I have never come across a survey to test that idea, so its veracity remains speculative.

I tend to see the body as a kludge of evolutionary compromises and polymorphisms that (mostly) function fine but are prone to illness and, sometimes, unintended complications of normal physiology.

One of the unintended consequences of the inflammatory response to infection is clot. Infections are inflammatory. Inflammation is a prothrombotic state. And a prothrombotic state leads to clot.

Virtually every infection that has been evaluated is associated with an increased risk of clot in the two months following infection: stroke, heart attack or pulmonary embolism. Even the inflammation from dental work is associated with a transient, albeit small, risk for stroke or heart attack.

So would getting vaccinated decrease the chance of a vascular event?

There have been numerous epidemiological studies to suggest that influenza vaccine recipients have decreased odds for stroke and heart attack. A 2013 meta-analysis suggests.

the use of influenza vaccine was associated with a lower risk of major adverse cardiovascular events.

A study last month also suggests influenza is associated with atrial fibrillation and the flu vaccine may decrease the risk.

Influenza infection was significantly associated with the development of AF, with an 18% increase in the risk, which could be reduced through influenza vaccination.

Routine infections increases the risk of strokes in children as well. And vaccination is protective:

Children with some/few/no routine vaccinations were at higher stroke risk than those receiving all or most (odds ratio [OR] 7.3, p = 0.0002). In an age­ adjusted multivariate logistic regression model, independent risk factors for AIS included infection in the prior week (OR 6.3, p < 0.0001), undervaccination (OR 8.2, p = 0.0004), black race (compared to white; OR 1.9, p = 0.009), and rural residence (compared to urban; OR 3.0, p = 0.0003).

Infections are bad not just during the acute disease but in the weeks following and vaccinations may prevent some of the unintended consequences of a normal immune response to infection.

It is also why, when looking at the benefit of vaccination, it is important to look beyond the prevention of one infection in one person. There are population benefits and sometimes unexpected downstream benefits to vaccination as well.

Points of Interest 02/18/2016
Points of Interest 02/16/2016

Related Posts