Amid measles outbreaks, Senate hearing to discuss how vaccines save lives

Just a week after a congressional hearing...

Posted: Mar 5, 2019 2:38 PM

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 US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions is holding a hearing Tuesday morning called "Vaccines Save Lives: What is Driving Preventable Disease Outbreaks?"

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.

"For certain individuals and organizations that spread misinformation, they instill fear into the public for their own gain selfishly and do so knowing that their information is incorrect. For my mother, her love, affection and care as a parent was used to push an agenda to create a false distress, and these sources which spread misinformation should be the primary concern of the American people," he said. "Approaching this issue with the concern of education and addressing misinformation properly can cause change, as it did for me."

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.

"I grew up in an [anti-vaccination] household. 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," Lindenberger said in a YouTube video on Saturday.

When he turned 18 a few months ago, Lindenberger began getting vaccinated, and he is finally caught up on all his shots. At the hearing, he is speaking alongside two professors of pediatrics and epidemiology, the Washington state secretary of health and the president and CEO of the Immune Deficiency Foundation.

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.

When it comes to the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has long confirmed that the vaccine is safe and effective.

Additional evidence supporting the safety of the vaccine was published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine on Tuesday.

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.

"I see your pain and your desire for answers to your children's health issues. Your mission to protect and promote the health of your children is one we share. While the science is clear that vaccines do not cause autism, we do need to better understand its causes. We need to develop -- together affected families, scientists, and public health officials -- research agendas, to get the answers we need," he said.

In January, Gov. Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency in the state of Washington in response to the measles outbreak.

All in all, "vaccines are safe, effective, and the best protection we have against serious preventable diseases like measles," Wiesman said in the 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."

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 750432

Reported Deaths: 13764
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1031991782
Lake556411007
Allen41662691
St. Joseph36974564
Hamilton36561417
Elkhart29390459
Tippecanoe22886225
Vanderburgh22549400
Porter19348325
Johnson18432388
Hendricks17608317
Clark13206193
Madison13139344
Vigo12608253
LaPorte12415221
Monroe12188175
Delaware10954198
Howard10285225
Kosciusko9619119
Hancock8562145
Bartholomew8164157
Warrick7856156
Floyd7781180
Grant7232179
Wayne7160201
Boone6939103
Morgan6746141
Dubois6214118
Marshall6208116
Cass6000109
Dearborn589578
Henry5895109
Noble580787
Jackson508975
Shelby500896
Lawrence4738122
Gibson444593
Clinton441455
Harrison441073
DeKalb439485
Montgomery436390
Whitley406343
Huntington402481
Steuben399759
Miami393169
Jasper387454
Knox375890
Putnam372160
Wabash360683
Ripley346970
Adams345355
Jefferson335785
White331553
Daviess3033100
Wells295181
Decatur289992
Greene286885
Fayette284864
Posey273835
LaGrange273072
Scott270156
Clay266448
Washington245234
Randolph244783
Jennings235349
Spencer234431
Starke227958
Fountain220348
Sullivan214343
Owen211658
Fulton202142
Jay200932
Carroll193420
Orange188155
Perry187137
Rush175826
Vermillion174644
Franklin170335
Tipton166146
Parke149316
Pike138234
Blackford136232
Pulaski120547
Newton113736
Brown104043
Crawford102316
Benton101414
Martin91615
Warren83815
Switzerland8118
Union72810
Ohio57811
Unassigned0420

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1108146

Reported Deaths: 20122
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1286421460
Cuyahoga1157382208
Hamilton813551248
Montgomery525311041
Summit48395999
Lucas43343818
Butler38951604
Stark33318929
Lorain25658504
Warren24580303
Mahoning22355603
Lake21166387
Clermont20111253
Delaware18841135
Licking16660222
Fairfield16570204
Trumbull16537482
Medina15603271
Greene15272247
Clark14233306
Wood13287198
Portage13242214
Allen11910239
Richland11601211
Miami10843224
Wayne9130222
Columbiana9029230
Muskingum8906135
Pickaway8658122
Tuscarawas8643248
Marion8641138
Erie8056164
Ashtabula7147179
Hancock6996132
Ross6943161
Geauga6834150
Scioto6534105
Belmont6155174
Union584549
Lawrence5726102
Jefferson5675158
Huron5544122
Sandusky5439125
Darke5415129
Seneca5347126
Washington5318109
Athens523660
Auglaize501887
Mercer487385
Shelby476595
Knox4570112
Madison444065
Ashland435597
Putnam4336103
Defiance432298
Fulton432072
Crawford4036110
Brown402461
Logan387577
Preble3848104
Clinton379166
Ottawa373581
Highland359665
Williams348078
Champaign344258
Guernsey324853
Jackson318154
Perry297350
Morrow291840
Fayette285450
Hardin274965
Henry273367
Holmes2699101
Coshocton268960
Van Wert247264
Adams243156
Pike242835
Gallia240750
Wyandot234556
Hocking220162
Carroll197148
Paulding176542
Meigs148240
Monroe136344
Noble136039
Harrison114138
Morgan109624
Vinton85517
Unassigned03
Fort Wayne
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Angola
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Huntington
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Decatur
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Van Wert
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Showers and storms are possible Saturday morning, but the chance of rain will stick around all day long.
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