walkitout (walkitout) wrote,

TRMS on vaccines

Wow. Really, really stupid summary. Maddow described the recent outbreak as a 19th century style outbreak.

Okay. Let's visit wikipedia on the subject of measles.


"In the United States, reported cases of measles fell from hundreds of thousands to tens of thousands per year following introduction of the vaccine in 1963 (see chart at right). Increasing uptake of the vaccine following outbreaks in 1971 and 1977 brought this down to thousands of cases per year in the 1980s. An outbreak of almost 30,000 cases in 1990 led to a renewed push for vaccination and the addition of a second vaccine to the recommended schedule."

You don't have to go back to the 19th century, just the 20th. And honestly, if there were still 30,000 cases a quarter century ago (hey, I remember that quite vividly, actually), we really shouldn't be acting like this is all that big of a surprise.

We've known for a while now that the big risk with measles is when overseas epidemics are transmitted to the US by tourists in either direction. The Philippines has been struggling with a lot of cases (as has China -- the WHO puts together a nice map so you can see where the problems are). We should be focused on getting vaccination up in places like the Philippines -- where some provinces have rates as low as 50%-60%.

We can no longer act like our country can be made pristine and safe by actions taken within our borders. We need to focus our efforts where the need is greatest. (Altho I'll stick by my assertion that there are probably some adults who could use a booster or two here in this country.) Rhetoric which suggests that endemic measles is something in our distant past is not going to help us address this problem. Rhetoric which acts like the current outbreak is anything like as scary as what most people in this country ought to be able to remember (1990 was 25 years ago, and median age in the United States is 36 and change) is also distinctly unhelpful.

Here, a little reading for people who have forgotten in the early 1990s.


[ETA: I think we fixed the 1990 epidemic problem ultimately by making vaccines close to mandatory to participate in school. My husband observes that our state -- and presumably many others -- also completely removed cost obstacles to receiving the standard vaccine schedule.]

[ETA: Contemporary documentation of the 1990 new rules for going to school, from NY: https://www.suny.edu/sunypp/documents.cfm?doc_id=55]

[ETA: Well, _this_ is very sad! http://www.wpro.who.int/philippines/mediacentre/features/immunization_campaign/en/ As wonderful and important as it is that WHO and DOH worked together to do a mass immunization of every 0-5 in the country against polio and 9 months-5 against measles and rubella, they did that in 2011, too, and it helps -- for about a year. And then measles gets going again. We need to help the Philippines solve the routine vaccination problem -- either that, or we'd better figure out a way to make the mass vaccination system work a little more often than every 3 years.]
Tags: health, politics
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