The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee today held a hearing on vaccine-preventable diseases and the importance of vaccination to preventing measles and other disease outbreaks. After eliminating measles in 2000, the United States reported 372 measles cases last year and has confirmed outbreaks this year in Washington state, New York, Texas and Illinois.
 
“There is a lot of misleading and incorrect information about vaccines that circulates online, including through social media,” said Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn. “Here is what I want parents in Tennessee, in Washington, in Texas, everywhere in our country to know: Vaccines are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and meet the FDA’s gold standard of safety.”
 
Jonathan McCullers, M.D., chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center and pediatrician-in-chief at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis, said vaccine opposition and hesitancy are “impairing our ability to effectively insure appropriate vaccine coverage, aided by state laws that make it easier to avoid vaccination.”
 
Washington State Secretary of Health John Wiesman said nearly all of the cases in his state involve unvaccinated individuals and that parents’ concerns over the risks of vaccination “must be addressed with compassion, care and evidence-based practice.”
 
John Boyle, president and CEO of the Immune Deficiency Foundation, said “my life, along with the lives of hundreds of thousands of others who are immunocompromised depend upon herd immunity.”
 
Also testifying at the hearing were a professor of global health at Emory University in Atlanta and a high-school student whose mother is an anti-vaccine advocate.
 

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