Liz Friedman: Now is the time to act on vaccines

  • What is measles and how can you prevent it? (CDC/TNS) CDC

Published: 6/3/2019 7:30:19 PM

I want to add my voice to that of columnist Clare Higgins (“State must end vaccine exemptions,” April 27) in advocating for a clear and rapid response to the growing threat of measles in Massachusetts and the significant possibility that it will come right here to western Massachusetts.

This is a moment in which we must move forward with a commitment to the greater good. As we know, some of our local immunization opt-out rates are at significant levels. In fact, to reach herd immunity protections for measles, we must be at a 90-95 percent immunization rate. We are not at that level in some of our communities.

Infants without immunizations, elders without strong immune systems and those who are suffering with immune-compromised health conditions will be affected if measles comes to our community.

There is concern that adults who were born between 1957 and 1967 may need to be revaccinated to be fully protected. This is disturbing. Immunizations and the herd-safety they provide are a foundational component of our commitment to the public health of all.

I, too, urge us to consider ending vaccine exemptions at the state level. Additionally, we should consider other options that may allow us to appropriately prioritize and expedite a public health response to the growing threat of measles.

Can we mandate vaccinations to attend public schools? Can our medical providers create a way for unvaccinated people to receive the care that they need, yet not come in contact with those at most risk of infectious diseases?

One of my growing concerns is of the threat that may now exist in our local pediatric offices, in which there is most assuredly children without vaccines sitting in the same waiting room with infants who are not yet vaccinated.

I know that we all want the best for all of our children, as well as all who may be immune-compromised. None of us want a measles outbreak here. Now is the time to talk about this and take action quickly.

Liz Friedman

Northampton




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