Tags: MidPoint | Paul Offit | vaccination | Disneyland | measles outbreak

Doctor: Vaccination Needs Better Advocates

By    |   Wednesday, 28 Jan 2015 02:40 PM

Taking medical advice from anti-vaccine zealots puts children in the path of deadly viral diseases such as measles, when vaccinations will save their lives and are proven to have no role in the development of autism, an infectious diseases expert told "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner on Newsmax TV Wednesday.

But the pro-vaccine message still hits pockets of resistance — hence, a measles outbreak traced to Disneyland — and that's partly on health professionals, said Paul Offit, director of vaccine education and a pediatrics professor at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

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"Our failure as educators and physicians is we haven't been able to convince parents that these fears are ill-founded," said Offit, a co-inventor of the rotavirus vaccine.

Offit said that parental concern is understandable.

" 'My child was fine. They got a vaccine, and now they're not fine. Could the vaccines have done it?' Those are testable questions, and they have been answered," said Offit, a former advisory board member of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"The frustrating part is when we have the answers — when we show vaccines don't cause autism or developmental delays or hyperactivity — that we can't convince some parents to believe it," he said.

Some medical professionals aren't helping, he said.

"If you look last night on CBS Evening News, they had a doctor on there who said measles is no big deal," said Offit. "We're at fault too. Most doctors at our hospital here … have probably never seen measles, which is remarkable. It certainly was a huge disease when I was younger."

Before the measles vaccine was introduced in the United States in 1963, "every year in this country there were 3-4 million cases of measles, 48,000 hospitalizations and 500 deaths," said Offit.

Vaccination has proved so effective, he said, "at some level, vaccines are a victim of their own success."

But it's when communities and medical professionals lower their guard — and fewer than ever have experienced an epidemic — that viral, preventable diseases flare up again, he said.

"We don't learn from history," said Offit. "I unfortunately had to live through the 1991 measles epidemic in Philadelphia — an epidemic that saw more than 1,400 people, mostly children, affected. And nine children died."

"Live through that, be scarred by that, and you become a passionate advocate for vaccines," he said.

Offit said that too many in his profession lack that sense of urgency.

"They've been all too willing to let patients walk out of their office into an increasingly far too dangerous world," he said.

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Taking medical advice from anti-vaccine zealots puts children in the path of deadly viral diseases such as measles, when vaccinations will save their lives, an infectious diseases expert told "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner on Newsmax TV Wednesday.
Paul Offit, vaccination, Disneyland, measles outbreak
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2015-40-28
Wednesday, 28 Jan 2015 02:40 PM
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