Child Health

Legislation Should Address Vaccine Hesitancy and Rise in Vaccine-Preventable Diseases

December 10, 2019 | National

Last week, the bipartisan Congressional Baby Caucus hosted a briefing on the factors negatively affecting vaccine coverage and the rise of vaccine-preventable diseases. Joining Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro were doctors who discussed the current crisis in the US: although the MMR vaccine led to the elimination of measles in the US in 2000, this year has seen the most measles cases since 1992. This year, the World Health Organization even listed vaccine hesitancy as one of the top threats to global health.

Vaccines are essential to protecting children, families, and communities, and herd immunity is especially critical for vulnerable children with medical conditions as well as infants too young to be immunized. To maintain and increase vaccine coverage that will ensure necessary herd immunity, parents must have confidence in the safety and efficacy of vaccines, exemptions must be restricted, and existing exemptions must be monitored.

Last week’s briefing highlighted a number of legislative approaches to addressing these concerns including the VACCINES Act – which CDF supports, as it would provide funding for research on vaccine hesitancy and increase public understanding of the benefits of immunization. In addition to supporting public education and research on hesitancy, Congress should:

  • Make it easier for eligible children to stay continuously enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP
  • Invest in high-quality research on diseases and vaccine efficacy
  • Measure the costs of providers’ strategic planning and outbreak response to better demonstrate the economic as well as health costs of low coverage
  • Ensure DHS offers vaccines for children and families in their custody to protect against preventable deaths like that of Carlos Gregorio Hernandez Vasquez

Read more about CDF recommendations for Congress, as well as states, pediatricians and other health care providers, parents, and faith leaders in our brief, Vaccines, Preventable Diseases and Children’s Health: A Call to Action. It is essential that we continue to speak out and take action to address misinformation and hesitancy and to protect our children from preventable, and potentially deadly, diseases.