WASHINGTON, DC – Leading physicians joined the Sabin Vaccine Institute and a virtual “who’s who” of the medical, academic and advocacy community to recognize National Infant Immunization Week with the release of an Open Letter emphasizing the critical role of vaccines in protecting public health.
"The single most important thing parents can do to protect their children against infectious diseases is to immunize them," said Dr. Louis Z. Cooper, President of the American Academy of Pediatrics. “Parents need to know that immunizations are the greatest weapons we have against deadly, preventable illnesses.”
Concern over confusing media coverage, widespread Internet misinformation, and the risk of falling immunization rates prompted more than 75 of the nation’s top physicians and public health experts to sign the open letter publicizing their strong, unwavering support for vaccines.
A Tennessee mother, Suzanne Walther, chose not to vaccinate her daughter after reading misinformation about vaccines. Her daughter subsequently developed a form of meningitis that would have been prevented by immunization.
“I don’t want my child to be the one in 3 million” who has a reaction to a vaccine. "But I also don’t want mine to be the one in 10 that dies if they get the disease; I’d rather take my chances with the one in 3 million than the one in 10,” remarked Ms. Walther.
Sabin Scientific Advisory Chair Dr. Peter Hotez, who is chairman of Microbiology and Tropical Medicine at GW Medical Center, urged parents who had concerns about immunizing their child to talk to their pediatrician or to seek information from credible websites like those sponsored by the Sabin Vaccine Institute, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Academy of Pediatrics, or the National Network for Immunization Information.
Physicians and health experts around the country are encouraged to sign the letter by visiting www.sabin.org. The Sabin Vaccine Institute has set a goal of adding hundreds of signatures by August 2002, National Immunization Awareness Month, to demonstrate the overwhelming support for vaccines within the medical and public health community.
The Albert B. Sabin Vaccine Institute, founded in 1993, pursues Albert Sabin’s vision of a world protected from disease by vaccines. Its mission is to save lives by stimulating development of new and next generation vaccines and increasing immunization rates. Sabin Institute colloquia bring together leaders of academia, industry, government and philanthropy in a shared quest to accelerate the development of vaccines to prevent infectious diseases and to prevent and treat cancer. The Institute’s Hookworm Vaccine Initiative is working to develop a vaccine to prevent an infection that afflicts more than twenty percent of the world’s population, a leading cause of anemia and malnutrition.
Key Doctors, Scientists and Health Leaders Support the Sabin Vaccine Institute’s Open Letter on Vaccines . . . Here’s What They’re Saying
“The single most important thing parents can do to protect their children against infectious diseases is to immunize them. The truth is that immunizations are the greatest medical miracle of the 20th century. As a pediatrician who has cared for children for more than forty years, I have seen the devastation of infectious disease, and the success of immunizations in preventing those diseases.”
Dr. Louis Z. Cooper, President
American Academy of Pediatrics
“Childhood immunization is the most effective and valuable preventive health intervention, bar none. Partnership for Prevention commends the Sabin Vaccine Institute for bringing the facts about the effectiveness and safety of vaccines to all Americans through its Open Letter to the public.”
John M. Clymer, President
Partnership for Prevention
“The Sabin Institute Open Letter is a reminder of how important unimpaired access and availability of both childhood and adult vaccines are to the health of our nation. I am pleased to enthusiastically support this communication.”
John Modlin, MD
Dartmouth Medical School Chair
CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices
"The American Public Health Association has previously made the long-term commitment to numerous issues associated with vaccine development and immunization. An important public health issue, vaccine development and immunization battle the infectious diseases that seriously affect the lives of the public. By developing vaccine registries in every state, we will be able to help assure proper vaccine coverage and improve tracking of adverse events, ultimately leading to a safer, healthier public."
Mohammad N. Akhter, MD, MPH
American Public Health Association
“A key lesson from the events of 9-11 is that misery and hopelessness anywhere in the world can have catastrophic consequences for Americans. What could be more painful than watching children die of diseases that could have been prevented by immunization? Our country invents and manufactures more preventive vaccines than any other. What we need now is for millions of us to speak out, demanding that these life-saving products be accessible to people who need them most -- whether in Afghanistan or Appalachia. The Sabin Vaccine Institute's Open Letter is an important step in the right direction.”
Author of Big Shot: Passion, Politics, and the Struggle for an AIDS Vaccine
“In health care today, many common clinical services are thought to be of questionable value in protecting the public's health. In contrast, vaccines have proven to be among the most effective tools available to protect the public against certain communicable diseases. It is critical that our support of immunization efforts be maintained and strengthened to counter the threats to immunizations we are now facing.”
Thomas Stenvig, Associate Professor
South Dakota State University College of Nursing
“Every Child By Two has signed onto this Open Letter because we are committed to the importance of informing the public about the critical need for timely immunization of all children. Vaccines are safe and effective. Public health advocates must continually strive to provide the public with this important message, while helping to decipher between fact and fiction.”
Amy Pisani, Executive Director
Every Child By Two
“The American Nurses Association (ANA) is an ardent supporter of childhood immunizations. Nurses, who are often the first point of contact with the health care system, play a key role in ensuring that children receive the recommended vaccines in a timely way. ANA applauds the Albert Sabin Vaccine Institute's efforts to educate the public about the importance and safety of immunization.”
Linda J. Stierle, MSN, RN, CNAA
Chief Executive Officer
American Nurses Association