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Baltimore-area doctors made a public stand in favor of vaccines Monday, standing literally shoulder to shoulder to urge holdouts to get their kids vaccinated against measles.
“Ours is an unequivocal message. Vaccines are safe, they are effective, and they save lives every single day,” Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen said as the group stood up in front of a seminar about measles at the Johns Hopkins University school of public health.
“The Disneyland outbreak raises the real risk that measles may come roaring back. We have come too far to let that happen,” the group said in a statement.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 121 people have been reported infected with measles so far this year. One outbreak — the one linked to Disneyland — is responsible for 85 percent of the cases, CDC says.
“The Disneyland outbreak raises the real risk that measles may come roaring back."
The outbreak has renewed a focus on parents who refuse to vaccinate for religious and philosophical reasons. Many have doubts fueled by anti-vaccine groups and websites.
Last year, the U.S. had the most cases of measles since 1994 with 644 cases. More than half were from a single outbreak among Amish people in Ohio who were infected when relief workers carried the virus back from the Philippines. But the average has only been about 60-70 cases a year, so with 121 cases already on record so early in the year, doctors are worried.
CDC says it’s clear that clusters of deliberately unvaccinated people are to blame for the outbreak and for most outbreaks. Unvaccinated travelers — most of them Americans returning from abroad — carry the virus back to the United States.
“It’s critical to make sure your child is up to date on all vaccines,” said Dr. Steven Czinn, chairman of pediatrics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. “I ask you to review the data. There have been dozens of studies in last 10 years that demonstrate the safety and the efficacy of these vaccines,” he added
“Common sense will dictate that you need to get your children vaccinated.”
Polls suggest most Americans do support and believe in vaccines. A study released Monday by Pew Research found that 83 percent of the U.S. public agrees that vaccines for diseases such as measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) are safe for healthy children. The survey found that 92 percent of college graduates agree that vaccines are safe but this drops to 77 percent of people with a high school degree or less.
Nationally, about 91 percent of kids get the combined measles, mumps and rubella vaccine before they start preschool.