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Vaccine-Preventable Outbreaks on the Rise

January 30, 2017
Since the fall of 2008, the Council on Foreign Relations has been tracking outbreaks of infectious diseases to promote awareness of this easily preventable global health problem. They created a tracking tool in the form of an interactive map which visually plots global outbreaks of diseases easily preventable by inexpensive and effective vaccines. The map illustrates a resurgence over the years which they contribute to the growing avoidance of vaccination due to misinformation. This is why a successful implementation of vaccination programs and dispelling myths is vital to our global health. Vaccines are very safe. The CDC’s infographic on the journey of a vaccine outlines the multi-year process of vaccine development and approval before ever becoming part of the recommended immunization schedule. And even after public release, the FDA and CDC continue to monitor vaccine safety. Successful vaccination programs will be the driver in helping eradicate preventable diseases worldwide.

Unfortunately, much work remains to be done.

The Wall Street Journal recently examined a vaccine-preventable outbreak hitting college campuses – Mumps. Mumps is a highly contagious infectious disease that can be spread through either direct or indirect contact. According to the article, mumps vaccines have been available for about 50 years, but the spread is recently on the rise:
As of Nov. 26 [2016], the latest date available, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had recorded 3,832 provisional mumps cases across 45 states and Washington, D.C. That’s nearly triple the 2015 total of 1,329 and the highest tally since 2006.

The WSJ goes on to name four universities with outbreaks in 2016 totaling 172 cases that could have been easily prevented with proper vaccination. Dr. Paul Offit, a professor of pediatrics in the division of infectious diseases at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, notes that mumps cases are more often due to faded immunity. The efficacy of the vaccine diminishes after 10 to 15 years – requiring that booster right around those college years. This is just one example of how not following vaccine schedules creates a significant safety concern. Global health is dependent on every individual participating to protect themselves and those around them.

Read the full WSJ story Read the full WSJ story.

See the global impact map of vaccine-preventable outbreaks here.