02.10.15

Murray on Vaccines: “We Can’t Afford to Become Complacent About Protecting the Progress We’ve Made.”

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) delivered remarks at a HELP Committee hearing: The Reemergence of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases: Exploring the Public Health Successes and Challenges. In her opening statement, Murray highlighted that vaccines are one of our country’s greatest public health successes and that children across the country need to be vaccinated. Murray also called for breaking down barriers when it comes to accessing certain vaccines, and providing information and spreading awareness so that more people are protected.

Key Excerpts from Senator Murray’s remarks:

“There’s no question we have come a long way when it comes to what were once widespread and extremely dangerous illnesses. Vaccines are truly one of our country’s greatest public health successes. Thanks to them, we know how to prevent illnesses that struck so many children as recently as a generation or two ago—like polio, whooping cough, or measles.”

“But recent news about the measles outbreak in many states, including my home state of Washington, made clear that vaccine-preventable diseases are still a threat, and that we can’t afford to become complacent about protecting the progress we’ve made. Bottom line, this means children across the country need to be vaccinated. 

“It also means we need to be vigilant about breaking down any barriers families may face when it comes to accessing certain vaccines. And we need to ensure that in any cases where take-up rates are low, we’re providing information and spreading awareness so that more people can be protected.”

Full text of Senator Murray’s remarks:

“Thank you, Chairman Alexander. And thank you to all of our witnesses for coming and sharing your expertise.

“Keeping children and families healthy could not be more important. So I’m glad to have the opportunity to hear from each of you about the threat vaccine-preventable diseases still pose in the United States, and discuss what we should be doing to take these threats off the table.

“There’s no question we have come a long way when it comes to what were once widespread and extremely dangerous illnesses.

“Vaccines are truly one of our country’s greatest public health successes. Thanks to them, we know how to prevent illnesses that struck so many children as recently as a generation or two ago—like polio, whooping cough, or measles.

“But recent news about the measles outbreak in many states, including my home state of Washington, made clear that vaccine-preventable diseases are still a threat, and that we can’t afford to become complacent about protecting the progress we’ve made.

“Bottom line, this means children across the country need to be vaccinated.  It also means we need to be vigilant about breaking down any barriers families may face when it comes to accessing certain vaccines.

“And we need to ensure that in any cases where take-up rates are low, we’re providing information and spreading awareness so that more people can be protected.

“The HPV vaccine is a great example. It prevents life threatening cancers, including cervical cancer, which impact thousands of lives in the United States each year.

 “Despite this, the CDC reports that take-up rates for the vaccine are still ‘unacceptably low,’ meaning people continue to be exposed to deeply harmful illnesses that could have been prevented.

“I know several of our witnesses have done a lot of work on this issue. I will certainly have questions about what we can do to encourage broader use of this vaccine.

 “I’m looking forward to an update from Dr. Schuchat about the recent measles outbreaks and the work the CDC is doing to continue to encourage vaccination.

 “I’m eager to hear from Dr. Kelly Moore about the role of states in preventing and responding to outbreaks like this one. And I know that Dr. Sawyer and Dr. Jacks will also be able to provide valuable insight into ongoing, nationwide efforts to increase immunizations rates and help children and families stay healthy.

“I want to thank each of the witnesses again for the important work you are doing, and for taking the time to be here with us.

 “With that I’ll turn it back over to Chairman Alexander.”

###