Congress hears about antivaxxers

Contributed by
May 5, 2009
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Every Child By Two
I recently received this press release from the wonderful organization called Every Child By Two, a national non-profit set up to make sure children get their vaccinations. As you might expect, they are concerned about the recent rise of the antivax mob, who seemed determined to misinform parents and ensure we have a whole generation of kids susceptible to easily preventable potentially fatal infections.

The press release is important, and I reproduce it below in full. If you are so inclined, please show ECBT your love. Spread the word. Kids are dying, all over the world, and it's incredibly easy to prevent it. All we need to do is make sure parents get real information.

Congressional Briefing on Vaccines Addresses Local, National Disease Outbreaks

Mother of Hib Meningitis Victim Shares Story with Congress

(WASHINGTON, D.C.): Amidst recent disease outbreaks, Congressmen Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Joseph Barton (R-TX) held a Congressional briefing with several vaccine advocacy organizations to communicate disease risks and consequences. In light of recent resurgences of disease both locally and across the country, Every Child By Two (ECBT) and the American Medical Association (AMA) co-hosted the briefing to educate Congressional members and their staffers on the importance of timely immunization. Several public health organizations and medical associations joined ECBT and AMA as co-sponsors of this important briefing.

In 2008, five children in Minnesota contracted the vaccine-preventable infection Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) resulting in the death of one. Reports indicate that several of the children were intentionally unvaccinated. However, one of the victims was fully vaccinated but suffered from an immune disorder, which prevented the vaccines from working. This child, Julieanna Metcalf, barely survived according to her mother Brendalee Flint, who spoke to Congressional members today. "My daughter endured multiple seizures, brain surgery and a month in the hospital because of this terrible disease," she said. Julieanna remains developmentally delayed due to her illness. "Parents need to understand that when they choose not to vaccinate, they are making a decision for other people’s children as well. Somebody else chose Julieanna’s path. I still see the scar every day. Our family should not have had to endure this suffering."

"We are now seeing the severe impact that vaccine-preventable diseases can have on our children," said Amy Pisani, MS, executive director of Every Child By Two, "A man from the Washington, D.C. area brought the measles virus back with him after a recent trip to India. By the time the man realized he had the illness and sought medical attention, he had already visited seven places throughout the Washington region and infected an 8-month old child in a hospital waiting room. While this particular instance was not due to parental refusal to vaccinate, several other outbreaks have been attributed to misinformation about vaccines."

Pediatric Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Mark Sawyer, who treated children during the San Diego measles outbreak of 2008, spoke about the importance of community immunity. "It’s false and reckless to assume that these diseases have disappeared. We have seen the return of Hib in Minnesota and elsewhere as well as the resurgence of measles both on the East and West Coasts. No community is immune to vaccine-preventable diseases. Parents need to be aware of the critical importance of vaccinating their children on time to protect them when they are most vulnerable," said Dr. Sawyer.

Recent cases of swine influenza highlight the importance of maintaining a robust public health infrastructure that can rapidly detect and contain disease outbreaks. In addition, as stressed by CDC Acting Director Richard Besser, MD, people need to be community-oriented. Preventing disease and containing outbreaks are everyone’s responsibility. For more information on swine influenza, visit the CDC’s website at www.cdc.gov/swineflu.

Every Child By Two, the Rosalynn Carter/Betty Bumpers Campaign for Early Childhood Immunization, works to ensure that all children receive timely immunizations and continues to seek methods to institutionalize vaccine delivery and ensure access to vaccines for all children.

For more information, please visit www.ecbt.org and www.vaccinateyourbaby.org.