Just a week after a congressional hearing on the significant rise of measles cases in the United States, lawmakers are meeting again to discuss outbreaks of preventable diseases that seem to be sweeping the nation.
The hearing already has drawn attention as 18-year-old Ethan Lindenberg, who defied his mother’s wishes for him to not get vaccinated, is testifying in front of the Senate committee.
“To combat preventable disease outbreaks, information is in my mind the forefront of this matter. My mother would turn to anti-vaccine groups online and on social media, looking for her evidence in defense rather than health officials and other credible sources. This may seem to be in malice because of the dangers of not vaccinating imposes, but this is not the case. My mother came in the sense of loving her children and being concerned,” Lindenberg told lawmakers Tuesday.
Public health experts at the hearing, including Emory University Professor Saad Omer, suggested a national campaign about the importance of vaccines and making vaccine counseling reimbursable as ways to prevent outbreaks from happening and the spread of misinformation.
My mom didn’t believe that vaccines were beneficial to the health and safety of society and believes that they cause autism, brain damage and other complications. This has been largely debunked by the scientific community.
Vaccine effectiveness is expected to be a big topic of interesting at the hearing, as well as concerns around the spread of medically inaccurate information online relating to vaccines. Also at issue, whether addressing that misinformation might be a way to stop outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases before they start.
The study provided evidence strongly supporting that the MMR vaccination does not increase the risk for autism, does not trigger autism in susceptible children, and is not associated with clustering of autism cases after vaccination.
“I want to speak directly to the parents who have children with serious health issues and who have been attending our hearings in Washington state and are watching this hearing today,” said Washington Secretary of Health John Wiesman during Tuesday’s hearing.
In last week’s hearing, held by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the CDC, said, “I do believe that parents’ concerns about vaccines leads to undervaccination, and most of the cases that we’re seeing are in unvaccinated communities.”
Nationally, the United States has high measles vaccination coverage.
“However, there are pockets of people who are vaccine-hesitant. Outbreaks of measles occur when measles gets into these communities of unvaccinated people,” she said. “The only way to protect against measles is to get vaccinated.”