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Vaccines are not just for children

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  • Vaccines are not just for children

    By Elizabeth Whelan
    Guest Commentary
    Posted: 06/05/2010 12:01:00 AM PDT

    HEALTH OFFICIALS in California just announced an unexpected uptick in cases of the mumps. Nine cases of the disease have already been reported in Los Angeles this year. Since 2007, the number of cases in a particular year had never exceeded seven.

    Mumps can cause debilitating swelling and fever. As most parents know, a vaccine can easily protect a person from contracting the disease.

    Yet, as Los Angeles public-health authorities know all too well, some people clearly aren't getting immunized. And more recently, mumps has swept through the Orthodox Jewish communities in Brooklyn, N.Y.

    Many of the victims had failed to receive the recommended number of vaccinations, although some immunity is lost over time.

    This isn't a problem confined to Los Angeles or Brooklyn. While it is customary for parents to make sure that their children get all the recommended vaccinations, many adults avoid getting their shots. As a result, tens of thousands of people contract vaccine-preventable diseases every year.

    These diseases can be severe, or even life-threatening. And they cost our medical system and economy hundreds of millions of dollars a year.

    By improving the vaccination rate among adults, America's leaders can stem the rise of costly, completely preventable diseases, improve public health, and even help revive the economy.