Immunization Budget Cuts Come with Consequences
Mar 25, 2011

Sometimes we have to make tough choices.  Choices that we know will hurt.  Choices that we know may hurt others.  Every choice – every decision – comes with consequences. 
When it comes to budget cuts in this day and age, most everyone agrees we need them.  But that doesn’t mean they’re not going to hurt.  And it doesn’t mean we all agree on what cuts are best to make.
Earlier this week, an article in Mother Jones highlighted the “scary consequences of slashing the CDC’s immunization funding.”  When any organization’s budget is cut, there is bound to be a domino effect.  Since the CDC supports many state and local immunization programs, it is anticipated that the cuts will cause a ripple effect throughout the nation.   
The argument against the cuts is fairly straightforward.   Public health programs supported by the CDC help ensure vaccine education and availability, which in turn help to prevent and contain infectious and often fatal diseases.  Less funding could result in fewer vaccinations, more outbreaks that endanger public health, and ultimately impact the government’s ability to effectively respond to contain a disease when outbreaks do occur.
Take for instance recent measles concerns across the nation.  Just last month news spread of an unvaccinated French consulate employee in Boston who spread measles to others and sparked several  vaccination clinics.   Then there was the New Mexico resident who returned from England with measles and exposed thousands of travelers in 3 different cities and airports.  Most recently, there have been 9 reported measles cases in Minnesota, several tied to a Somali community who were intentionally unvaccinated due to concerns about vaccine safety.  Sadly, 4 of the MN cases were vaccine refusers and 4 were children too young to be vaccinated.   
In each of these instances, public health officials have had to devote costly resources to help contain this contagious, vaccine preventable disease.   With budget cuts and lower vaccination rates, it’s understandable that these needs could very well increase, rather than decrease, in the coming years.  While many of these recent measles cases started with patients who made a choice not to vaccinate, what will happen when people want to be vaccinated, but they are unable to make that choice?  Currently, CDC funds help address concerns of vaccine affordability, accessibility and education among our nation’s growing poor population.  But what will the future hold?        
Right now, politicians are debating this question.  But will pinching pennies today cost taxpayers more down the road?  Given the recent immunization challenges we are facing, I wonder what your thoughts are.  Are you concerned about cuts to immunization programs?  How do you think they will impact you and your community?


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