It was a proud moment for our nation. The year 2000 didn't just mark a new century and millennium. It
was also the year when measles was declared eliminated from the United States, a goal the country had
been working toward for 34 years. But now we are in danger of losing that designation.
There’s some good news for people who have been frustrated trying to get the newer, far more effective
vaccine against shingles: The manufacturer announced last month that it was investing $100 million in
its manufacturing facility in Montana to help increase its ability to produce the vaccine. In addition,
earlier this year it obtained permission from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to use a site in
France to help boost production.
The disturbing outbreaks of hepatitis A across the nation have sadly not abated this year. Arizona has
experienced more than 250 cases this year. The Alabama Public Health Department confirmed close to 80
cases in that state earlier this month. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment reports
more than 50 cases in that state, most of them in a single county.
One of the important reasons to be vaccinated is for our own health, but an equally important one is for
the health of others. That's especially true for the vulnerable people who can't be vaccinated against
measles -- both young babies and people with compromised immune systems.
Americans are receiving an unfortunate education these days in epidemiology and the spread of infectious
disease. We’ve hit a 25-year high in the number of measles cases, with more than 700 cases, and that was
just in the first four months of the year, according to the most recent numbers from the U.S. Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention More than 500 of those have occurred in the New York area, mostly
among the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community.