Friday, May 30, 2014

Measles on rise because people aren't getting vaccinated, says Loyola Infectious Disease leader

MAYWOOD, Ill. (May 30, 2014) – Measles have reached a 20-year high in the United States and the cause lies squarely with those who deliberately refuse to be vaccinated.
Eighty-five percent of all unvaccinated U.S. residents who contracted measles cited religious, philosophical or personal reasons for not getting immunized, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Religious, philosophical or personal reasons are not medical reasons for not getting vaccinated,” said Jorge Parada, MD, medical director, Infectious Disease at Loyola University Health System.

From Jan. 1-May 23 of this year, 288 measles cases were reported to the federal health agency, the highest year-to-date total since 1994. Measles has caused 43 patients to be hospitalized this year, but no deaths have occurred.

“Whether they recognize it or not,  most people who consciously opt out of vaccines are depending on herd immunity – that enough other people will get vaccinated so as to prevent widespread infection. Yet by opting out they are  seriously undermining the very herd immunity they depend on for safety,” Dr. Parada said. “It’s a numbers game, and America is losing ground in the fight against preventable disease."

Parada said the people he fears for most are those who for legitimate medical reasons cannot tolerate a vaccine.

“Herd immunity may be life-saving for people who medically cannot tolerate a vaccine, for these people are the most vulnerable to disease,” Dr. Parada said. “It should be frightening to every single American that people deliberately are refusing vaccinations.”
Too often the people who consciously opt out of vaccinations count on not getting sick, Dr. Parada said.

“I have worked in Africa and Europe where I witnessed outbreaks of vaccine-preventable illness due to a lack of access to immunizations, not due to personal choice” he said. “I saw moms begging for vaccines for their kids. In America, the collective memory of the horrific outbreaks of preventable diseases has faded."

Many simply underestimate the risk of natural infection and overestimate the risk of vaccinations.

“Deliberately choosing not to get vaccinated while relying upon others getting vaccinated is a dangerous combination,” Dr. Parada said. “I only hope those who opt out do not come to discover firsthand the potentially devastating consequences of natural infection."

Loyola University Health System is recognized internationally as a leader in infection control and prevention. Loyola is one of a few select hospitals that invests in universal screening of all inpatients for MRSA. Loyola was also one of the first institutions to require all staff to have mandatory flu shots as a condition of employment. Loyola also actively screens Emergency Department patients for HIV/AIDS as part of an ongoing research study.

About Loyola University Health System

Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is a member of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system that includes Loyola University Medical Center (LUMC), located on a 61-acre campus in Maywood, Gottlieb Memorial Hospital (GMH), on a 36-acre campus in Melrose Park, and convenient locations offering primary and specialty care services throughout Cook, Will and DuPage counties. At the heart of LUMC is a 547-licensed-bed hospital that houses the Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine, the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, a Level 1 trauma center, a burn center, a children's hospital, Loyola Outpatient Center, and Loyola Oral Health Center. The campus also is home to Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Loyola University Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. The GMH campus includes a 254-licensed-bed community hospital, a Professional Office Building with 150 private practice clinics, an adult day care program, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park.

Trinity Health is one of the largest multi-institutional Catholic health care delivery systems in the nation. It serves people and communities in 22 states from coast to coast with 93 hospitals, and 120 continuing care locations — including home care, hospice, PACE and senior living facilities — that provide nearly 2.5 million visits annually.