I’ve heard all the arguments against vaccination. All have been debunked, including the infamous 1980s study in Europe about a similar vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella, and a supposed link – that we now know to be false – to autism, which shattered vaccine use in Europe. Outbreaks now plague the Continent, and here in the U.S., signs of trouble are building.
Pertussis outbreaks in Oregon and Texas and an ongoing outbreak in California should alarm us. In Georgia right now there are 83 confirmed cases of this disease.
Last year, Georgia experienced well over 300 confirmed pertussis cases — 89 of which were infants, and 79 of the cases, in infants less than six months old. And if Georgia follows the nation, Georgia’s mothers will have passed whooping cough to almost half of those infants.
Mothers and expecting mothers, Georgia’s babies need you.
Georgia ranks 39th in the nation for its immunization rates, according to the CDC’s National Immunization Survey, which helps explain Georgia’s 46 pertussis-related infant hospitalizations last year.
At the Georgia Department of Public Health, our team in immunizations has been preparing for National Infant Immunization Week, which begins today. The team will work to improve Georgia’s resilience to vaccine-preventable disease through increased immunization rates among siblings, caregivers, grandparents and infants. I want to reach our state’s mothers-to-be.
I am a mother. I am vaccinated. And I ask you to join me. Choose to vaccinate first yourself, and then your new baby. Follow the vaccine schedule, and guard against diseases like whooping cough that only you can prevent before baby is born.
As a board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist, I have seen the devastating and painful effects of whooping cough and other vaccine-preventable diseases. I’ve seen mothers who fear every gasp of air might be their babies’ last.
Get vaccinated. Help spread the truth on vaccines, not the diseases they prevent.
Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald is commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health.