In more encouraging public health news, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that vaccination rates among kindergarteners have remained stable, with the median vaccine exemption rate at 2 percent. Some states even reported an increase in immunization rates.
When you ask public health advocates about President Trump’s recent budget proposal, you typically get a bewildered pause. Public health people don’t like to exaggerate — they follow the science, they stay calm, they face off against dangerous threats on a regular basis. Exaggerating doesn’t help contain diseases, it only makes it harder. So it’s concerning when you hear words like this about Trump’s budget: “devastating,” “not serious,” “ludicrous,” “unfathomable.”
Protecting babies and children against dangerous — sometimes fatal — diseases is a core mission of public health. Everyday, in health departments across the nation, someone is working on maintaining and improving childhood vaccination rates and keeping diseases like measles and mumps from regaining a foothold in the U.S.
Most news on the dangers of antibiotic-resistant infections focus on adults. But children are very much at risk too. In fact, a recent study found that U.S. children have experienced a 700 percent surge in infections caused by particular bacteria that’s both resistant to multiple antibiotics and responsible for growing numbers of serious bacterial infections in kids.
Because taking health insurance away from millions of Americans isn’t bad enough, President-elect Trump has reportedly asked an outspoken critic of vaccines — a man who supported the thoroughly debunked notion that vaccines are linked to autism — to lead a commission on vaccine safety.
A recent study finds vaccine refusals have, indeed, accelerated the resurgence of whooping cough and measles here in the U.S. The findings are making headlines around the country — and comment sections are filling up with vitriol from anti-vaxxers — but it would feel amiss not to highlight the study on a blog dedicated to public health. But first, let’s remind ourselves of the pain and suffering that preceded vaccines.
I usually shy away from getting too personal in my work. But in the spirit of Thanksgiving and as a new mom, I was thinking about things for which I’m particularly grateful. One of the first things that came to mind as a public health reporter? Vaccines. So, in that vein, let’s celebrate some new and promising numbers on the worldwide effort to eliminate measles.
When it comes to immunization rates in the United States, the story is a mixed one. Among children, we’ve absolutely excelled. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers the nation’s childhood vaccination rate as one of the greatest public health achievements of the 20th century. But when it comes to American adults — 50,000 of whom die every year from vaccine-preventable diseases — it’s a very different story.
In a somewhat frightening illustration of anti-vaccine trends, a new report estimates that among groups affected in the recent measles outbreak, the rates of measles-mumps-rubella immunization might have been as low as 50 percent.
It’s not the first study to examine the enormous health and economic benefits of vaccines. But it’s certainly another impressive reminder about the power — and value — of prevention.