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Press Release - 04 December 2007

Bath Science Café: Vaccines – heroes of health care

The vaccines that we are given as children or when we go on holiday are some of the most underappreciated contributions to modern heath care, says Dr Adam Finn, who will speak at the next Bath Science Café (7.30pm Monday 10 December 2007 in The Raven pub, Queen Street).

Some vaccines, such as the BCG and MMR, which help protect against tuberculosis and measles, mumps and rubella respectively, are injections of weakened bacteria (BCG) and viruses (MMR) that help us to become immune to serious diseases.

Other vaccines which contain parts of microorganisms induce immunity without causing any infection.

They have contributed to the rise of babies’ survival rates and the virtual disappearance of diseases such as polio.

“Vaccines are up there with clean water and decent housing as the big hitters giving us better and longer lives than our ancestors,” says Dr Finn, from the University of Bristol.

“One good vaccine achieves far more than all the operations done since surgery was invented.”

“Prevention may be better than cure, but it is invisible. We could be dead or maimed but for vaccines, but we don't know it.”

However, Dr Finn warns that vaccines are also increasingly considered ‘unnatural’, with public mistrust peaking around the MMR controversy.

“As a result, there are many safe and effective vaccines which we underuse or don't use at all,” said Dr Finn.

“There are many more in the pipeline, but it's hard to see how they will be used when there is so much anxiety about the few we use now.”

The Science Café will be held in The Raven pub in Queen Street in the centre of town. No tickets or reservations are required – all are welcome at 7.30pm for an 8pm start.

Organisers will ask for a small voluntary donation to cover travel costs for the speakers. The next Bath Science Café event will be:

To register for e-mail alerts about forthcoming Science Café events, contact Melissa Spielman.

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