Touting the Benefits of Vaccination in an Increasingly Skeptical World

So far this calendar year, 1,243 people scattered around 31 states had confirmed measles, the highest number of measles cases reported in the U.S. since 1992. Given the serious complications that can result from a bout with measles -- including hospitalization, pneumonia and encephalitis -- there's a long line of folks waiting to get vaccines, including influenza vaccine.



Fewer than half of adults in the U.S. get an annual flu shot, even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends it for anyone aged 6 months or older "as the first and most important step" in protecting against getting sick.

A panel of public health heavyweights will discuss that disconnect in a plenary session titled "All about vaccines: The individual, the community, the world," the closing session for IDWeek2019, an annual gathering of infectious disease experts held this year from Oct. 2 to Oct. 6 in Washington. Among the speakers, Anthony S. Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; Penny M. Heaton, MD, CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Medical Research Institute; and Peter Jay Hoetz, MD, PhD, founding dean of Baylor College of Medicine.

"The reemergence of these neglected diseases is unfortunate, but unless people have firsthand experience with someone who has suffered a serious complication of a vaccine-preventable disease, they don't appreciate how important vaccines are," says Roberta L. DeBiasi, MD, MS, chief of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Children's National Hospital and IDWeek 2019 co-chair.

"In the not-so-distant past, these vaccine-preventable illnesses used to circulate broadly - and they still do now around the world in countries where people don't have access to vaccines. In countries like the U.S., vaccines are successful at keeping the rate of preventable illnesses low when the majority of people are vaccinated. But when people stop vaccinating, these diseases will recur and have done so with increasing frequency," DDeBiasi adds.

The jam-packed schedule for IDWeek2019 includes presentations about vaccines and other therapies that are effective against infectious diseases, new research insights about emerging infections and updates about global outbreaks past and present, such as measles and Zika. Children's National faculty is represented all week, including:

-- Sarah B. Mulkey, MD, PhD, a fetal-neonatal neurologist, will present the results of a study (senior author Roberta L. DeBiasi, MD, MS) designed to assess the neurodevelopmental outcome of a cohort of Colombian infants exposed to Zika in the womb who appeared normal at birth. Mulkey's presentation of the study led by Children's National is part of a global snapshot of Zika's impact by presenters who include other infectious disease experts from the CDC, as well as other academic centers.

-- Drs. Michael Bozzella, a second-year fellow, and Andrea Hahn, an infectious disease specialist, will present research that finds that patients with cystic fibrosis treated with broad-spectrum anaerobic antibiotics had greater and more sustained changes in lung microbiome community compared with people who received narrow-spectrum anaerobic antibiotics. Research teams are closely examining how microbial diversity in the lungs is linked to more aggressive disease.

-- Children's National pediatrics resident Marisu Rueda will be awarded the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society Antimicrobial Stewardship Fellowship Award for her resident REACH project working with Rana Hamdy, MD, MPH, MSCE, an infectious disease specialist, and Lamia Soghier, MD, medical unit director of the neonatal intensive care unit, on a study evaluating blood culture volume in NICU patients. (Blood culture volume is how much blood is taken from tiny babies to send to the laboratory for testing. The less the better, however there are no clear guidelines. This study was to determine how much blood is needed to get a true result for a blood culture.)

-- And at a joint meeting dubbed the "Spring Break" for infectious disease gurus, these researchers prove they are not all work, no play with BugBowl, a Jeopardy-style live quiz competition with questions just about infectious diseases. TeamDC is a joint Children's National/National Institutes of Health team that includes Kevin Lloyd, MD; Maria Susana Rueda-Altez, MD; Kanal Singh, MD; and Alexandra Yonts, MD.

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