Vaccines Needed To Keep Serious Diseases From Returning

New York City | Tuesday, June 9, 2015

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The outbreak of measles that began in California and spread to several other states earlier this year demonstrated that vaccine-preventable diseases are not a thing of the past, as many Americans seem to believe. Some potentially disabling and fatal infectious diseases are making a comeback, and vaccines are critically important to preventing these once-common childhood diseases from threatening the public’s health again.

“These recent outbreaks teach us that these diseases are still around and can show up anywhere,” said Mark H. Sawyer, MD, professor, Clinical Pediatrics, Division of Infectious Diseases, University of California, San Diego School of Medicine-Rady Children’s Hospital. “Making sure everyone is immunized can prevent future widespread outbreaks and create herd immunity that will protect vulnerable people who can’t get the vaccine because their immune systems are suppressed or because they are too young to be immunized.”

Even pregnant women should be immunized, according to Sonja Rasmussen, MD, MS, Editor-in-Chief, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “A pregnant woman should get all the recommended vaccinations, including a pertussis booster and an annual flu shot. Being immunized not only protects her health, it protects her baby from the day it’s born,” Dr. Rasmussen said.

The two leading experts on vaccines made their comments and presented their latest research at a luncheon sponsored by the March of Dimes. The March of Dimes funded the development of the polio vaccine and encourages parents to keep their children and the community of children safe by following the schedule of vaccination recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) calls vaccines one of the 10 greatest health achievements of the 20th century. Yet cases of measles and whooping cough are increasing because of declining immunization rates.

“Vaccines defeated diseases like polio, measles, pertussis and just recently rubella, (German measles),” says Edward R. B. McCabe, MD, PhD, March of Dimes Chief Medical Officer. “Those vaccines were successful because of consistent, long-term efforts. This recent lapse in our vigilance and commitment allowed these deadly diseases to return and spread. The March of Dimes remains a staunch advocate for vaccination of all children and pregnant women in accordance with the CDC’s recommendations.”

About March of Dimes

March of Dimes leads the fight for the health of all moms and babies. We support research, lead programs and provide education and advocacy so that every baby can have the best possible start. Building on a successful 80-year legacy of impact and innovation, we empower every mom and every family.

Visit marchofdimes.org or nacersano.org for more information. Visit shareyourstory.org for comfort and support. Find us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram and Twitter.