Following the 1994 enactment of the Vaccines for Children program which was aimed to provide vaccinations for children whose parents could not otherwise afford them rates for many routine vaccines rose to 90 percent or higher. However, we are now seeing a re-emergence of many of the diseases targeted by these vaccines, including pertussis and measles. Writer Puneet Kollipara reports in his article in the Washington Post that health officials blame this on the fact that more parents are choosing not to have their children vaccinated on the basis of personal or religious exemptions.
Although Kollipara suggests that the public s awareness of vaccination might have decreased as a result of the diseases being vaccinated against becoming rare enough to fade from memory, the major culprit for parents choosing not to vaccinate their children is the rise of the anti-vaccine movement. Celebrities, demagogues and activists continue to claim that vaccines cause autism and other feared diseases even though science gives a resounding no. They claim that the mercury-based preservative thimerosal will cause brain damage. Well, even though thimerosal is generally recognized as safe, it s not even present in most vaccines anymore. Others claim that the CDC s vaccine schedule will overwhelm a child s immune system. Even though that was not true in the first place, the main ingredients in vaccines have decreased in amount.
The bottom line is that vaccines save lives (see below). According to a recent study led by the CDC, routine childhood vaccinations administered between 1994 and 2013 will save 732,000 lives, prevent 322 million cases of illness and prevent 21 million hospitalizations, as well as save $1.38 trillion.
Kollipara says, The science suggests that they [vaccines] are effective especially when enough people are receiving them and there s still no evidence that they cause autism.
Read the full piece here.
On a related note, the WHO has declared the spread of polio an international emergency saying if unchecked, this situation could result in failure to eradicate globally one of the world s most serious vaccine preventable diseases. Three of the ten countries currently infected with polio have allowed the virus to spread internationally Pakistan, Syria and Cameroon. According to the WHO, A coordinated international response is deemed essential to stop this international spread of wild poliovirus and to prevent new spread, which includes preventing residents who cannot show that they have been vaccinated from leaving the country.