Vaccines on Offense and Defense. A guest post from my friend, Dr. Lisa Costello.

For many, including me, football, fight songs, and colorful foliage are symbols of fall. As a pediatric hospitalist in Morgantown, the fall, however, serves as a sign of something else, something that’s not fun at all, the flu.

Flu can be a tough opponent for patients and health care providers. Fortunately, we have a game plan to help us fight it! The best way to prevent you or someone you love from catching the flu is by receiving the seasonal influenza vaccine this year and every year. Yes, the key to victory when it comes to fighting flu is getting a flu shot. In fact, the key to fighting many diseases is vaccination.

The best teams have a great offense and great defense, right? Vaccines are safe, effective, and the best way our bodies are able to score immunity (offense) to prevent illness from happening (defense.)

Vaccines have been part of the fabric of our society for decades and are the most significant medical innovation of our time. Vaccines prevent life-threatening diseases, like the flu, measles, diphtheria, polio, and hepatitis to name a few, and even prevent forms of cancer, notably cancer caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV). Vaccines keep communities healthy, and protect us all, including some of the most vulnerable in our society, including the elderly, children who are too young to be vaccinated or have compromised immune systems.

Routine childhood immunization is one of the crowning achievements in public health over the past century. Studies have estimated that childhood vaccination programs have prevented hundreds of millions of cases of diphtheria, hepatitis A, measles, mumps, pertussis, polio and rubella since 1924. Robust medical evidence continues to show that vaccines are safe. Vaccines are effective. Vaccines save lives.

However, challenges remain. Outbreaks of measles, pertussis, Hib, and other vaccine preventable diseases are returning. Numerous factors–including the cost of acquiring and administering vaccines, an increasingly complex delivery system, as well as a small but growing number of parents who are forgoing vaccination for their children–put success in jeopardy.

West Virginia, however, is leading the nation in an important public health measure: school-age vaccination rates. We do so because we have the nation’s strongest vaccination requirements for children in school. This is something to be proud of because we are all better off for it. Be part of a winning team, make sure your and your family’s vaccines are up to date.

This post was written by Lisa M. Costello, MD, MPH, FAAP. You can hear a conversation with her about vaccines on the Appalachian Health Podcast. Dr. Costello is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at West Virginia University, Vice-President of the WV Chapter – American Academy of Pediatrics and Treasurer of the WVSMA. You can follow West Virginian’s premier #tweetiatrician on Twitter at @LisaCostelloWV.

Published by Danny Scalise

Danny Franklin Scalise, II is the Executive Director and Chief Lobbyist of the West Virginia State Medical Association and its subsidiary organizations as well as a professor of Health Policy at the West Virginia University School of Public Health. He is considered one of the leading health policy experts in West Virginia and is a passionate advocate for public health. Scalise has been a public policy adviser to two Governors. He is well known across West Virginia as a problem solver and a great student of West Virginia politics & the legislative process. As part of the Manchin administration, Danny was the Recovery Czar in West Virginia managing $1.8 billion in grants and entitlement funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
 Danny earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management from West Virginia University Institute of Technology in 2002, his Master of Business Administration from West Virginia University in 2005, and his Master of Public Health degree in Health Policy in 2018. In 2016 he became Certified in Public Health by the National Board of Public Health Examiners. He has been published on and regularly speaks on issues of public health, health policy, and local health department governance & organizational structure. Danny sits on the Board of Directors for the Thomas Health System in South Charleston, WV and in 2019 Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin appointed him to serve on the Kanawha-Charleston Board of Health which governs the largest and first PHAB Accredited Health Department in West Virginia. 
 Danny has been recognized by Opportunity Nation in 2013 as part of their national Opportunity Leaders & Scholars program and was awarded the “Health Administration Rising Star” by the American Public Health Association in 2016. He is a 2012 Leadership West Virginia graduate, was on the State Journal’s 2016 Generation Next: 40 under 40 list, was named a 2019 Young Gun by West Virginia Executive Magazine, and was given the 2019 Advocacy Award by the West Virginia Immunization Network for his work to protect West Virginia’s childhood immunization laws. Since joining in 2007, Danny has been an active participant in Mensa.

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