Dr. Boozman's Check-up

Since January 1, 2014, 129 people in the U.S. have been infected with measles, a significant increase according to data released last week by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). These numbers reflect the biggest outbreak since 1996. 

While a vaccine has been available to protect against the measles since 1963, the World Health Organization (WHO) reports that there were 122,000 measles deaths globally in 2012, about 14 deaths every hour. 

Fortunately, we have the capability to prevent death from measles and other deadly diseases thanks to vaccines. According to WHO, up to three million lives could be saved each year if childhood vaccines reached all children who need them. The U.S. is leading this effort at home and abroad. 

In 1994, the CDC launched the Vaccines for Children program (VFC) to help vaccinate children whose parents might not be able to afford vaccines. USAID, the federal agency tasked with improving lives in developing countries uses campaigns like vaccination programs and expanded health initiatives to save lives. The U.S. is also a contributor to the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations (GAVI).  Established in 2000, this public-private partnership has helped immunize more than 440 million children, saving 6 million lives. Our help has made a difference but there is still more work to do.

As we recognize World Immunization Week we need to reaffirm our commitment to protecting children from vaccine-preventable deaths. Vaccinations are cost-effective, efficient and help save lives. We have a responsibility to help children in need, no matter where they live. As individuals we also have an obligation to make sure we are up-to-date with our own vaccinations. Through efforts like these, we are making great strides to help children worldwide fight preventable diseases.