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October 17, 1990

Secretary of Health, Human Services to Hear Recommendations for Improving Immunization

JAMA. 1990;264(15):1925-1926. doi:10.1001/jama.1990.03450150023005

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TODAY'S MEASLES outbreaks may be the first sign of serious trouble in the nation's immunization system.

Partly because rubeola is more readily transmitted than other childhood infections such as rubella and mumps, "the appearance of measles is a sensitive indicator of the inadequacies of our vaccination system," says Donald A. Henderson, MD, Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health, Baltimore, Md, and chair of the National Vaccine Advisory Committee to the secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services. "It raises the specter of whether we might expect, further down the line, outbreaks of polio [should it be imported], pertussis, and diphtheria."

If the system is failing to provide the current vaccines——such as for measles—to the nation's children effectively, then it is totally inadequate to provide the new vaccines that are waiting in the wings, Henderson says. The latter include Haemophilus influenzae vaccines for 2-month-old infants (JAMA. 1990;264:1375)