Posted Monday 25 February 2013
Vaccines and whether they are still necessary were the hot topics of conversation at the borough's latest Café Scientifique - a community event in which members of the public have the chance to debate the latest advances with academics from Kingston University.
Microbiology expert Professor Mark Fielder, from the School of Life Sciences, took centre stage on Tuesday, 26 February, to explore the history of inoculation from the times of smallpox vaccine pioneer Edward Jenner through to the modern day. In a session entitled Vaccines - Do We Need Them Now That Infectious Disease is Under Control?, he outlined the reasons why such protection is still vital for a healthy society.
"These days we rarely see child and adult deaths from infectious diseases on a routine basis and, on the whole, we enjoy good health - in part because vaccination programmes are so effective," Professor Fielder said. "Mass vaccination programmes have rid the world of smallpox and virtually eradicated polio. They are a huge success story."
In recent years some parents had become fearful about having their children immunised, either because they did not trust the big drug companies or because they had been misled by headlines surrounding discredited research into measles, mumps and rubella (MMR), Professor Fielder added. "My view, however, is that vaccines are more important than ever as other treatments such as antibiotics begin to fail," he explained.
Café Scientifique has spread to more than 40 towns and cities in the United Kingdom since it began in Leeds in 1998. The idea is based on Café Philosophique, which philosopher Marc Sautet launched in France in 1992.
Kingston's first Café Scientifique took place last November. Environmental damage and robots are possible subjects for future sessions.
Pictures courtesy of the Gates Foundation and VCU CNS