Private clinics inflate prices for vaccine amid hype surrounding measles

The ministry of healthcare believes that there is no reason to panic

Private clinics inflate prices for vaccine amid hype surrounding measles Photo: kzn.ru

The hype surrounding measles is growing in Kazan. In early November, there was information about several patients. Rumours began to spread, despite the information provided by the ministry of healthcare of Tatarstan. In private clinics, there is an increased demand for measles vaccination: the vaccine can be found only in a few, and the price of it has jumped at least one and a half times. However, experts of the ministry of healthcare argue that it is possible to get vaccinated against measles absolutely free of charge in any state-funded polyclinic in the city, and they do have the vaccine. The same information has been confirmed to Realnoe Vremya in the children's polyclinics of Kazan.

Official data: two people have been diagnosed with the infection-tourer

Chief freelance specialist on immunization at the ministry of healthcare of Tatarstan Dmitry Lopushov told that there were registered two cases of measles the week before last in Kazan: a mother and her child rested in the UAE, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. They were not vaccinated. The head of the family remained in Kazan and his wife and child did not infect him: he had been vaccinated.

Lopushov told Realnoe Vremya:

“According to sanitary rules, in case of suspicion of measles, we carry out primary anti-epidemic measures. They include monitoring in the hotbed for all those with whom the patients came into contact for 21 days and vaccinating those who have not been vaccinated against measles and have not had it. The circle of contacts on these people is extremely wide because they live in a multi-entrance nine-storey residential building. Everyone who now lives there, as well as those who have been in contact with the sick at work and in educational institutions, are now under observation to prevent further spread of the disease.”

Where panic comes from

Measles is an extremely contagious disease, it has very high contagiousness (the ability to be transmitted from the sick person to other people).

Dmitry Lopushov says:

“The measles contagiousness index is 0,9. That is, 90% of those who've been in contact with the sick will get sick if they have not been vaccinated or have not had measles before. This disease is airborne transmitted. It is enough to be in the same room with the patient. Besides, the measles virus is very resistant and can spread through ventilation ducts — that's why we are taking under medical supervision the whole house! A patient on the first floor can infect those living on the ninth because the ventilation duct goes from top to bottom. Plus, you need to take into account the fact that people move around the city, and do not sit at home. They live in one house, registered in another, went to visit in the third, every day they go to work — that is, the circle of contacts is expanding, and we systematically identify all contacts of the first order.”

The maximum period in which symptoms can appear is 21 days. At the moment, this period from the time when measles has been diagnosed in two patients has not passed yet. That is why experts still call people every day from the site of infection, come to their home and closely monitor their health status.

Lopushov explains the hype in the city surrounding measles and rumours of dozens of cases in the following way:

“We receive requests from citizens and the media. We talked about everything in detail at the press conference. But the time passed — and everyone has forgotten that the period of prevention is 21 days. Therefore, perhaps, there is a false impression that in Kazan there has appeared a source of infection: doctors visit homes, there is a daily check, the unvaccinated are asked to be vaccinated. I repeat, only two people got sick, no new cases have been detected yet, we continue systematic work and will continue it until the end of November.”

750 rubles for the vaccine, which cost 350 two weeks ago

Meanwhile, the hype surrounding measles is serious. People apply for paid vaccinations in private clinics of the city. Realnoe Vremya called 8 largest paid medical institutions of the city, the measles vaccine was found only in one clinic. “People are asking every day”, “we ran out of the vaccine two weeks ago”, “when it will appear is unknown, you’re today already the seventh who call about this”, “people want do paid vaccination, what can we do? There is no vaccine, and we cannot say exactly when it will come” — administrators of clinics shrug and politely offer to call back “in a couple of days”.

Realnoe Vremya called 8 largest paid medical institutions of the city, the measles vaccine was found only in one clinic. Photo: mos.ru

The price of the anti-measles monovalent vaccine starts from 300 rubles in private clinics. In a clinic, where such a vaccine has been found, as of the morning of November 14, they named the price of 750 rubles. When asked why the price has doubled in two weeks, the administrator of the clinic said that it is the vaccine from a new batch, and the price is dictated by the supplier.

Meanwhile, on the websites of other clinics, the list of services of which include vaccination, the most expensive measles vaccination, which we have found, is 500 rubles. However, there is no vaccine, as mentioned above, and no one knows when it will appear.

There is a free alternative in any state-funded clinic

Dmitry Lopukhov told Realnoe Vremya that if you have a suspicion that you are not vaccinated, you can come to a regular state-funded clinic and get vaccinated there for free. The specialist assured Realnoe Vremya that all Kazan polyclinics are provided with the vaccine in full:

“We have it in all institutions. It comes as part of the national calendar for routine vaccination. In addition, since the beginning of the year, there has been a clean-up immunization. This is the vaccination of all those who, for some reason, do not have the required two measles vaccinations. A vaccine was purchased specially for them at the expense of the regional budget. Therefore, we have it in sufficient quantity. You just need to come to the clinic with a policy of compulsory medical insurance, pass a medical examination by a therapist and get vaccinated.”

“There is still such a thing as long-term consequences — and this is, perhaps, the most dangerous of all that measles can entail,” says Lopushov. Photo” CDS Global / wikipedia.org

Who is threatened by measles, and why it is dangerous

On the question why measles is dangerous, Dmitry Lopushov told us:

“It should be noted, first of all, that there is no treatment against measles today. It's symptomatic. Yes, there will be a recovery. But there may be complications: pneumonia, bronchitis, meningoencephalitis may develop. There is such a thing as long-term consequences — and this is, perhaps, the most dangerous of all that measles can entail.

After the clinical recovery of the patient, when all symptoms disappear, the measles virus remains in the body. And in some cases, it eventually affects the brain. Symptoms in the form of subacute sclerosing panencephalitis begin to manifest after five to six years. Against the background of full health, there are problems with learning, memory, motor functions are impaired, and gradually a person turns into a disabled person. And no one will remember that five years ago he had measles, which went ‘without complications’.

In this case, parents who refuse to vaccinate a child take responsibility for the possibility of developing such consequences. It's very frightening: when there is a real threat, parents sign waivers.”

Measles can be contracted by a person who has not been vaccinated on a scheduled basis: the measles vaccination must be done twice in a lifetime. According to the calendar, children are vaccinated against measles aged one and aged six. If for some reason there is no data on these two vaccinations, then in a free clinic under the MHI policy, it can be done at any time, at any age, and now, according to the specialist of the ministry of healthcare, it's time for this.

If for some reason there is no data on these two vaccinations, then in a free clinic under the MHI policy, it can be done at any time. Photo: Oleg Tikhonov

“It is necessary to emphasize: if you live in a hotbed of the disease, medical workers come to you and ask to be vaccinated, then it should be done. But unfortunately, some people refuse — the adults themselves, and, what is most terrible and painful, they also refuse to vaccinate their children. Even against the background of real contact with the infection! And this makes me very angry and puzzled and causes some anxiety because the risk of infection of such children is very high. Since the beginning of the year, only 5 cases of measles have been registered in Tatarstan — and in all the cases they have not been vaccinated. But in those years, when I studied at the medical institute, we could not find a patient with measles: at the time of universal vaccination of measles there was not a single person with measles in Kazan.”

According to Lopushov, today in Kazan about 5% of parents of children under 18 years refuse to vaccinate against measles.

By Lyudmila Gubaeva
Tatarstan