Tag: advocacy

US Presidents and Vaccines

You would think that getting kids vaccinated and protected against vaccine-preventable diseases would be a non-partisan issue, but it unfortunately isn’t always the case.

donald-trump

Even before Donald Trump brought up false claims that vaccines cause autism, we have seen what can happen when funding for vaccines dropped. Federal support for vaccines dropped while Reagan was in office and we quickly saw outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases, including many deaths.

Fortunately, most American Presidents have strongly supported vaccines.

There is no longer any reason why American children should suffer from polio, diphtheria, whooping cough, or tetanus. … I am asking the American people to join in a nationwide vaccination program to stamp out these four diseases.

JFK in 1962

  • George Washington – had smallpox and later mandated that every soldier in the Continental Army had to be inoculated against smallpox
  • John Adams – was innoculated against smallpox (before Jenner‘s vaccine was available), as were his wife and children
  • Thomas Jefferson – conducted his own smallpox vaccine trials
  • James Madison – signed the Vaccine Act of 1813 – An Act to encourage Vaccination.
  • James K Polk – died of cholera, a now vaccine-preventable disease, three months after his term ended
  • Zachary Taylor – died of cholera while still in office
  • Abraham Lincoln – developed smallpox while he was in office
  • Franklin D Roosevelt – had polio and founded the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, which was later renamed the March of Dimes, and helped fund Jonas Salk‘s research on the first polio vaccine
  • Harry S Truman – had diphtheria as a child, which may have left him with vision problems, and was vaccinated against smallpox
  • Dwight D Eisenhower – signed the Polio Vaccination Assistance Act in 1955, which gave $30 million in federal grants to states to cover the costs of planning and conducting polio vaccination programs, including purchasing polio vaccine
  • John F Kennedy – signed the Vaccination Assistance Act in 1962 (Section 317 of the Public Health Service Act), which started as a three year program to help get kids vaccinated against polio, diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis, but it has been continuously reauthorized ever since
  • Lyndon B Johnson – established a legacy of US leadership in global immunization by funding the CDC Smallpox Eradication program in 1965 (smallpox wasn’t eradicated until 1980)
  • Richard Nixon – observed that scientists who helped develop the polio vaccine with Jonas Salk “deserve far greater respect and support by the people whom they serve than they now receive.”
  • Gerald Ford – instituted a swine flu vaccination program for an outbreak that never appeared
  • Jimmy Carter – his National Childhood Immunization Initiative in 1977 reached its goal of immunizing 90% of children
  • Ronald Reagan – signed the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act (NCVIA) of 1986, which created VAERS and the NVICP, while federal support for vaccine programs reached a low point in his years in office, as rates of children living in poverty and without health insurance increased
  • George HW Bush – his immunization action plan in 1991 once again raised immunization rates following three years of measles outbreaks
  • Bill Clinton – his Childhood Immunization Initiative in 1993 which included signing the Vaccines for Children (VFC) Act, provided free vaccines to many children
  • George W Bush – announced a major smallpox vaccination program in 2002, but very few healthcare workers actually volunteered to get vaccinated
  • Barack Obama – declared the 2009 H1N1 swine flu outbreak a national emergency, Obamacare requires health insurance plans to pay for vaccines without co-pays, made the Ebola outbreak a national security priority, and helped keep funding for Zika vaccine research going

What can we expect our next President to do about vaccines and vaccination rates?

For More Information on US Presidents and Vaccines:

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Paul Offit

Paul Offit, MD, FAAP is a pediatrician and infectious disease specialist, completing his training at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

If people choose not to get vaccinated it’s because they’re not scared of the disease, and they have false concerns about what the vaccine can do.

Paul Offit, MD

His abbreviated resume is 34 pages long…

Paul Offit's books will help you do real research about vaccines.
Paul Offit’s books will help you do real research about vaccines.

In addition to being the co-inventor of RotaTeq, one of two rotavirus vaccines in use today, Dr. Offit is the director of the Vaccine Education Center and a professor of pediatrics in the Division of Infectious Diseases at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the Maurice R. Hilleman Professor of Vaccinology at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

Even more importantly, whether it was his appearances on The Daily Show or The Colbert Report and other places in the media, his free vaccine course, or the 150 papers he has published in medical and scientific journals, Dr. Offit has been a leading force in educating pediatricians and parents about the importance and safety of vaccines

His books and articles are essential reading, especially for health care providers and parents who might be thinking about skipping or delaying one or more vaccines. They include:

  • Autism’s False Prophets: Bad Science, Risky Medicine, and the Search for a Cure
  • Deadly Choices: How the Anti-Vaccine Movement Threatens Us All
  • Vaccines and Your Child: Separating Fact from Fiction
  • Do You Believe in Magic?: The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine
  • Bad Faith: When Religious Belief Undermines Modern Medicine
  • Vaccinated: One Man’s Quest to Defeat the World’s Deadliest Diseases
  • The Cutter Incident: How America’s First Polio Vaccine Led to Today’s Growing Vaccine Crisis

Not surprisingly, he is a frequent target of anti-vaccine groups.

It also shouldn’t be surprising that all of their attacks are very easily debunked.

For More Information on Paul Offit:

Who is Tom Frieden?

CDC Director Tom Frieden in West Africa during the Ebola epidemic.
CDC Director Tom Frieden in West Africa during the Ebola epidemic.

Thomas Frieden, MD, MPH has had a long career in public health, working as Commissioner of the New York City Health Department and most recently as the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dr Frieden went to Oberlin College, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, and did his residency in internal medicine at Yale University.

The field of public health aims to improve the health of as many people as possible as rapidly as possible.

A responsive government can maintain that people are responsible for their own health while also taking public health action that changes default choices to make it easier for people to stay healthy.

Dr. Frieden on The Future of Public Health

During his career, he:

  • worked to reduce rates of cases of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis by 80 percent in New York City
  • assisted the national tuberculosis control program in India
  • directed efforts to reduce smoking, including teen smoking, in New York City
  • led the response to the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic in the US
  • has pushed for more funding to help control and treat Zika, which he says will likely “become endemic in this hemisphere”

Perhaps most importantly, and despite some criticism, Dr. Frieden led the CDC during the Ebola epidemic in West Africa. An epidemic that spread to the US and other countries and for which the “CDC has undertaken the most intensive outbreak response in the agency’s history.”

Recently, he has also highlighted “two shortcomings of our health system,” that the upward trend in life expectancy that we have seen over the past 50 years (about 9 years), “is neither as  rapid  as  it  should  be  —  we  lag  behind  dozens  of  other  nations – nor is it uniformly experienced by people in the United States.” And that is because “life  expectancy  and  other  key health outcomes vary greatly by race, sex, socioeconomic status, and geographic location.”

And after working to eliminate trans fats from restaurants in New York City and have chain restaurants post calorie information on their menu boards, he has continued to confront many of the more modern era epidemics, like obesity, hypertension, and diabetes.

He resigned from the CDC on January 20, 2017 and was replaced by Anne Schuchat, MD, who became the  became Acting Director.

For More Information on Thomas Frieden

Updated January 22, 2017

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Celebrities Who Advocate For Vaccines

Some of the first celebrities to advocate for vaccines did so to help combat polio.

lucy-desi-polio
In 1954, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz asked everyone to “give every dime and dollar” they could spare to fight polio.

From Grace Kelly to Elvis and Marilyn Monroe, stars lined up to support the efforts of the March of Dimes to end polio, with celebrity comedian Eddie Cantor leading the way.

Joan Crawford, Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, Red Skelton, Johnny Cash, Jack Benny, Bing Crosby, and many others were a part of the Polio Crusade.

Before that though, there were celebrities that were working to fight smallpox. Celebrities of the time like Lewis Carroll, who is best known for writing Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass.

There are, not surprisingly, many pro-vaccine celebrities now too.

  • Kristen Bell
  • Ewan McGregor
  • John Oliver
  • Jennifer Garner
  • Olivia Wilde
  • Amada Peet
  • Lenny Kravitz
  • David Beckham
  • Keri Russel
  • Julie Bowen
  • Serena Williams
  • Salma Hayek
  • Christy Turlington Burns
  • Kim Kardashian
  • Jennifer Lopez
  • Kristi Yamaguchi
  • Marc Anthony
  • Sarah Michelle Gellar
  • Kendra Wilkinson
  • Marissa Jaret Winokur

And like Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz in the 1950s, many are working with organizations to help fight vaccine-preventable diseases and protect children.

Many, like Ewan McGregor and Salma Hayek, work with UNICEF.

Others promote flu vaccines, combat pertussis, or simply fight the anti-vaccine misinformation that is that out there.

For More Information On Celebrities Who Advocate For Vaccines:

Maurice Hilleman – The 20th Century’s Leading Vaccinologist

Do you know who Maurice Hilleman was or what he did?

He once said that:

Preventative medicine, and little else with the possible exception of antibioitcs, has brought about the lengthening of the average human lifespan to the Biblical threescore and ten years. Among the most potent and effective weapons in accomplishing this longevity have been the vaccines.

If you don’t who he is, you will likely be surprised that he is often described as the:

  • unsung giant of vaccinology
  • greatest vaccinologist
  • 20th century’s leading vaccinologist
  • greatest scientist of the 20th century
  • father of modern vaccines

Tragically, he has also recently been described as the MMR vaccine’s forgotten hero.

Even though he developed 8 of the 14 most commonly used vaccines that save at least 8 million lives a year, few people know about him or that he developed the measles, mumps, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, meningitis, pneumonia, Haemophilus influenzae bacteria, and rubella vaccines.

You might even be more familiar with his daughter, as the Jeryl Lynn strain of mumps virus is in the current mumps vaccine. Hilleman developed the mumps vaccine after culturing the virus from his sick daughter, Jeryl Lynn, and then attenuating the virus.

With all he did, it’s not surprising that Bill Gates called Hilleman one of the most influential vaccine heroes.

Maurice Hilleman also:

  • defined antigenic drift and shift for influenza
  • discovered and purified interferon
  • identified adenovirus
  • discovered SV40

All together, he developed 40  experimental and licensed animal and human vaccines.

Hilleman once called Jenner, Pasteur, Koch, von Behring, Ehrlich and Lister giants of their time – the late 18th and 19th centuries.

Similarly, Maurice Hilleman was, without question, a giant of our time.

For More Information on Maurice Hilleman:

David Edmonston and the Measles Vaccine

David Edmonston was an 11-year-old student at the Fay School in a suburb of Boston in 1954 when Thomas Peebles collected blood samples and did a throat swab on David during a measles outbreak.

Peebles wasn’t exaggerating when he told him and the other children:

Young man, you are standing on the frontiers of science.

Using that Edmonston strain of measles, John Enders developed the first attenuated measles vaccine.

Enders’ measles vaccine was replaced by another live measles vaccine which was licensed in 1968. It used the further attenuated Edmonston-Enders strain and was thought to cause fewer side effects, such as fever and rash.

Ironically, Edmonston didn’t vaccinate his own son in the 1970s because his wife was “dead set against” having him vaccinated and he “went along.”

In a 2015 interview, Edmonston said that:

I quite understand why some people would say our decision was morally wrong. Also, having read about the more recent studies on vaccinations … I’ve changed my thinking and now agree with those who say that it is in each child’s best interest to be vaccinated, based on the statistical chances of infection and of apparent bad reactions.

Having attributed high vaccination rates for the reason why his son never got measles, Edmonston understood that “We knew that we were benefiting from a risk that was being taken by other.”

He also maybe undervalues the importance of his role in the development of the measles vaccine:

I did very little personally, but it makes me feel good to know that I participated in a medical project that helped the world.

Peebles and Enders weren’t able to isolate the measles virus from any of the other children at the Fay School.

For More Information On David Edmonston:

John Enders – The Father of Modern Vaccines

John Enders (1897-1985) is often called “The Father of Modern Vaccines.”

Together with T. H. Weller and F. C. Robbins, Enders received the Nobel Prize in 1954 for their work on the cultivation of the poliomyelitis viruses (in 1949).

He also, with Thomas Peebles, isolated the measles virus in 1954 and the mumps virus, with K Habel, in 1945.

In 1963, Enders developed the first attenuated measles vaccine, using the Edmonston strain of measles that his assistant, pediatrician Thomas Peebles had taken with a throat swab from 11-year-old David Edmonston in Boston.

Enders’ measles vaccine was replaced by another live measles vaccine which was licensed in 1968. It used the further attenuated Edmonston-Enders strain and was thought to cause fewer side effects, such as fever and rash.

John Enders appeared on the cover of Time magazine on November 17, 1961.

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