Today, in a world where important information is shared using only 140 characters, when someone sits down to write a letter, it tends to mean something. When that letter is signed by over 350 national organizations, the message is important.
This past Tuesday, President Trump received a letter drafted by the American Academy of Pediatrics - with the one message that vaccines are safe. The letter was sent in response to an ongoing concern that President Trump is not only personally against vaccines, but, is actively putting mechanisms in place to investigate, and make changes in, vaccination policies in our country.
Importantly, the letter requests a meeting with Trump "to share the robust, extensive scientific evidence supporting vaccine safety and effectiveness." Although the President must have a packed agenda, this is a more than reasonable request seeing as he met with Robert F. Kennedy Jr. last month to discuss vaccination. RFK Jr. is a longtime skeptic of vaccination and someone who promotes the completely false claim that that vaccines cause autism, lending his last name to a cause that is based on false science and fear mongering.
The letter states, in simple terms, that vaccines are safe and that we should be working, as a nation, to increase the rates of vaccinations.
It states that “Vaccines protect the health of children and adults and save lives. They prevent life-threatening diseases, including forms of cancer. Vaccines have been part of the fabric of our society for decades and are one of the most significant medical innovations of our time." and that "Delaying vaccines only leaves our nation’s citizens at risk of disease, particularly children, As a nation we should redouble our efforts to make needed investments in patient and family education about the important of vaccines in order to increase the rate of vaccination among all populations."
Hopefully, this letter will encourage the President to sit down with representatives of the scientific community to hear what the science says about vaccines. And, if he gave someone like RFK Jr. his time and ear, he should do the same for the other side - only listening to one side will certainly lead to ignorance.
Maybe, if this letter doesn't do what it is intended to, and the point is still not getting across, we should forget about the main body of the letter and just tweet the last line.
"Put simply: Vaccines are safe. Vaccines are effective. Vaccines save lives."
The letter, in full.
Dear Mr. President:
On behalf of organizations representing families, providers, researchers, patients, and consumers, we write to express our unequivocal support for the safety of vaccines. Vaccines protect the health of children and adults and save lives. They prevent life-threatening diseases, including forms of cancer. Vaccines have been part of the fabric of our society for decades and are one of the most significant medical innovations of our time.
Because of the introduction of mass vaccinations, smallpox was declared eradicated from the world in 1977. Polio, a disease that routinely afflicted 13,000 to 20,000 Americans every year in the United States before the availability of the vaccine, was officially eliminated from the Western Hemisphere in 1991. Globally, vaccines prevent the deaths of roughly 2.5 million children per year. And, data shows that just for children born in the United States in 2009, routine childhood immunizations will prevent approximately 42,000 early deaths and 20 million cases of disease with savings of more than $82 billion in societal costs.
Although vaccines are the safest and most cost-effective way of preventing disease, disability and death, this country still witnesses outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases, as highlighted by the measles outbreak at Disneyland in 2014. In 2012, 48,277 cases of pertussis (whooping cough) were reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), including 20 pertussis-related deaths. This was the most reported cases of pertussis since 1955. In addition, each year, more than 200,000 individuals are hospitalized and 3,000-49,000 deaths occur from influenza-related complications.
Claims that vaccines are unsafe when administered according to expert recommendations have been disproven by a robust body of medical literature, including a thorough review by the National Academy of Medicine (formerly known as the Institute of Medicine). Attached to this letter is a non-exhaustive list of studies demonstrating the safety of vaccines. Delaying vaccines only leaves our nation’s citizens at risk of disease, particularly children. As a nation we should redouble our efforts to make needed investments in patient and family education about the importance of vaccines in order to increase the rate of vaccination among all populations. Put simply: Vaccines are safe. Vaccines are effective. Vaccines save lives. Our organizations welcome the opportunity to meet with you to share the robust, extensive scientific evidence supporting vaccine safety and effectiveness.