This is a story about the most important medical message you’re not hearing: According to a new study published by the American Journal of Medicine, at least 89 percent of American adults are now vaccinated against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DTaP).
In the United States, vaccinations are a hot political issue. The vaccination debate is so fraught that it has been part of a Washington debate after one of its pediatricians – Dr. Mary Anne Jackson, the director of the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago – made remarks about policy in recent weeks that led several members of Congress to call for her firing.
Dr. Jackson, meanwhile, has joined a group of pediatricians who think that America’s policy on vaccines needs a serious reconsideration. That’s important because that process has led to major drops in vaccination rates, with one report showing that there are now nearly 900,000 more unimmunized children than there were in 2000.
Dr. Deborah Des Jardins, an immunization epidemiologist at the National Institutes of Health, helped lead the analysis on the latest DTaP booster, which was issued last year and is known as the swine flu vaccine. Dr. Des Jardins says that it looks like nearly everyone who needed a booster shot was covered by it.
“We are finally breaking through that barrier of 58 percent coverage, which we’ve struggled to reach in the past. Now we’re there. At around 39 million doses, this is a good immunization season. That’s the good news. The bad news is that 34,000 additional cases of pertussis are expected, with especially high rates in the northern third of the United States.”