May 8, 2019

Sometimes timing is everything. In regards to having an outbreak of a vaccine preventable disease – measles, I wish this was not occurring. However, with my focus this year on ensuring that Granite Staters are protected from these diseases by routine immunizations, the timing couldn’t be better for the medical community and health systems to take a more assertive role in vaccine promotion.

Measles cases are at the highest level in the United States since 1994, after being declared eliminated in the year 2000. Measles is everywhere we look or hear in the media almost daily. A quick Google search recently came up with the following results: Cruise ship quarantined after measles case occurs onboard; movie theater measles exposure; measles exposure at a trampoline park; UCLA and Cal State Los Angeles quarantined students due to measles. These stories make it evident that measles is highly contagious and can spread quickly. If one person has it, up to 90% of the people close to that person who are not immune will also become infected. We are living this again.

I feel that as a pediatrician, we need to remind our families and patients that it is not only the “non-vaccinator” community that is at risk but all children under the age of one year old, who are NOT vaccinated due to the CDC recommendation for first dose of MMR vaccine at one year of age. These infants are at greater risk of getting the disease and having complications of the disease.

We need to stop this outbreak and ensure that Granite State residents are protected. As physicians, we need to talk to all ages of patients about immunizations. I will continue to work with the NH Department of Health and Human Services and other stakeholders to help implement a working vaccine registry, so we can monitor any areas of the state that may have lower levels of immunizations, decreasing the immunity protections of local communities. We can target these areas with education to prevent these vaccine preventable diseases from taking hold here in New Hampshire.

Tessa Lafortune-Greenberg, MD
NHMS President

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