In the News
Posted on April 13, 2019
Tennessean: Op-Ed by Lamar Alexander and Marsha Blackburn: Vaccines save lives
Vaccines save lives — the lives of those who receive vaccinations, and the lives of those who are too young or medically vulnerable to be immunized.
That is why we encouraged the Senate to support Sen. Marsha Blackburn’s resolution this week that highlights the importance of vaccinations and encourages Americans, especially parents, to consult with their doctors and follow the scientific evidence and consensus of medical experts regarding timely vaccinations to protect children, families and communities.
Vaccines have been so successful that, until recently, Americans have lived without fear of getting infectious diseases like measles, polio or rubella.
But despite the sound science that supports the safety and effectiveness of vaccines, some are using social media to claim that vaccines aren’t safe and, by doing so, are creating a public health hazard that is entirely preventable.
Over 90% of Americans were vaccinated for measles in 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but we continue to see outbreaks of this preventable disease due to pockets in the United States that have low vaccination rates.
Last year alone, there were 372 cases of measles — this was previously the second highest number of reported cases since measles was eliminated in the United States in 2000 until this year. Over the past month, we have seen an almost threefold increase in the number of reported measles cases.
Since the beginning of this year, there have been at least 465 cases reported, with outbreaks confirmed in Washington, New York, New Jersey, California and Michigan.
The Blackburn resolution affirms that vaccines save lives, strengthens public health preparedness and recognizes that low vaccination rates can create an environment where vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks continue to emerge and spread.
This resolution also encourages a continued commitment to biomedical research to improve existing vaccines and to develop new vaccines against existing and emerging infectious diseases.
The CDC advises American medical providers and parents that the benefits of the currently recommended vaccines greatly outweigh the risks of those vaccines. Study after study has debunked the myth that vaccines cause autism.
Vaccines are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as safe and effective, and meet the FDA’s gold standard of safety. A study published earlier this month in the Annals of Internal Medicine shows that there is no connection between the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism. There is, however, strong evidence supporting their lifesaving capabilities and safety, and the success of vaccinations is best reflected by the countless lives that they have saved.
It was not too long ago when the threat of children contracting polio terrified parents and communities. But after the introduction of a vaccine, polio was completely eliminated in the United States by 1979, and since then, from every country in the world except for three.
Polio is just one of the diseases eradicated in the United States because of vaccines.
In 1980, smallpox was declared eradicated from the world by the CDC and the World Health Organization. And before the vaccine for measles was developed, up to 4 million Americans each year contracted the highly contagious airborne virus. But in 2000, thanks to vaccines, the CDC declared measles eliminated from the United States.
This is a remarkable demonstration of modern medicine.
It is important for those Americans who have doubts to talk with doctors and nurses if they have any questions about vaccines saving lives.