A Senate panel this week will examine the causes of the recent rise in measles cases and other infectious diseases that are preventable through vaccine use.
Members of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions are scheduled to hold a hearing Feb. 10 on the measles outbreak that has infected more than 100 people in 14 states since the start of the year. “The federal government is spending millions to spur the discovery of an Ebola vaccine … yet dangerous diseases for which we already have a vaccine are rising,” Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), the committee chairman, said in a news release.
Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, is slated to speak. Last month, she fretted over the growing number of parents who have decided not to vaccinate their children for non-medical reasons.
Last year saw the largest number of measles cases reported in the U.S. since the disease was declared eliminated in 2000. Most of the 644 cases reported in 2014 were among unvaccinated people; 79% of them had taken personal belief exceptions, Schuchat said.
Also set to speak is Arizona pediatrician Dr. Tim Jacks, who recently wrote a letter published in Mother Jones magazine castigating parents whose unvaccinated children got sick and infected others at Disneyland. “Please realize that your child does not live in a bubble,” he said. “When your child gets sick, other children are exposed. My children.”