February 16, 2015 at 5:00 am ET
The debate over the importance of vaccinations obscures who is most at risk from the potentially deadly diseases vaccinations protect against: America’s children and our family and friends living with compromised immune systems.
The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America urges the nation’s parents to get timely vaccinations for their children as the best way to protect them from infectious diseases, including measles and influenza, which are currently experiencing outbreaks.
Domestically, measles cases are at their highest level in years, with cases in 17 states and Washington D.C. being reported as of last week. And while some advocates argue there is a connection between vaccines and autism, extensive and thoroughly peer-reviewed research suggests no link exists. The misrepresentation and resulting non-adherence to recommended vaccinations can lead to severe health risks such as disease vulnerability and even death.
In 2015, many Americans weren’t yet born to witness the terrifying rampage that polio exacted on our country and others around the world. At its destructive peak in the 1940s and 1950s, the disease would paralyze or kill more than 500,000 people around the globe every year.
What stopped it? A persistent doctor named Jonas Salk – and his lifesaving vaccine.
Measles has also exacted a deadly toll. In 1980, measles was believed to kill more than 2.5 million people worldwide – mostly children – every year. Others developed pneumonia, lifelong brain damage or deafness.
But widespread vaccination has led to a 75 percent decrease in deaths from measles between 2000 and 2013, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). WHO now says during that period, measles vaccination prevented an estimated 15.6 million deaths, “making measles vaccine one of the best buys in public health.”
That “best buy” is something our kids need and deserve.
Recent measles outbreaks are a clear warning that history can repeat itself – unless American families help stop it by visiting their pediatrician or local clinic and getting their children vaccinated right away.
There are other benefits to vaccination. In fact, immunization delivers such broad benefits that its effects can also save up to $43 billion in direct and indirect costs.
PhRMA company researchers and other dedicated scientists around the world continue to safely and effectively develop the nearly 300 vaccines in the pipeline for the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases like measles, malaria, pertussis (whooping cough), HIV/AIDS and others.
Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Margaret Hamburg – a medical doctor with deep experience in infectious disease like HIV – alerted Americans this week that “there is no shortage of measles vaccine. It should be used by everyone who has not been vaccinated to prevent measles and the potentially tragic consequences of the disease.”
Now is the time for America’s families to schedule recommended immunizations. The next generation deserves to learn and grow free from the fear of preventable disease.
John Castellani is the President and CEO of PhRMA