WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- The U.S. Immunization program has been successful in preventing many children from suffering the ill-effects of life-threatening diseases, but the program needs to address several issues in order to continue to make strides in the new millennium, according to Jon S. Abramson, Chair of the Department of Pediatrics at Brenner Children’s Hospital, in a recent editorial in this month’s issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
“Immunizations are one if not the most cost-effective health intervention strategies available, saving society more than $5 for each dollar spent on most of the currently recommended vaccines,” said Abramson.
However, Abramson and his colleague, Larry K. Pickering, M.D., from the Emory University School of Medicine, say educational programs designed to increase the public’s confidence in immunization programs are needed.
“Over the last decade, some groups have erroneously associated vaccine usage with autism and SIDS, encouraging parents to question whether their child should receive needed immunizations,” Abramson said. “Serious side effects from vaccines are rare and much has been done to maximize vaccine safety. In addition, we have not had any outbreaks of vaccine-preventable deadly diseases in this country – in fact we have eliminated two diseases: smallpox and polio. This leaves the general public with the impression that these diseases aren’t real threats and the larger threat looms in receiving the vaccination.”
Dwindling supplies of necessary vaccinations and inadequate financing of vaccine programs remain as roadblocks for an effective vaccination program, according to Abramson.
“The U.S. Immunization program has been extremely successful in reducing disease burden due to vaccine preventable diseases,” he said. “However, substantial room for improvement exists in order to maximize protection against disease while minimizing perceived risks. Solving these issues is one important way to ensure that each child will have the best possible opportunity for a healthy and productive life.”
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