Posted By Hope Alfaro On May 30, 2017

Vaccine-Preventable Diseases: Public Health vs Personal Choice. How can meaningful use EHR help keep public safe?


Despite recent popularity on the internet and media, vaccines have been used and developed for nearly 200 years. A vaccine is a biological preparation that provides active acquired immunity to a particular disease. Their prevalent use in industrialized countries has dramatically improved overall population health and eradicated or nearly eradicated many diseases that were once a great threat.  Still, the dispute over personal choice vs. government mandates is an uncomfortable subject with many people.  Federal mandates for vaccinations have increased over the years in support of improving public health and each state has different rulings of when personal and religious beliefs can override state laws.  However, the fact remains that we are all responsible for the health of our population.  While modern vaccines are not 100% they have disposed of the threat of diseases such as polio and dramatically reduce common potentially life-threatening childhood illness such as chicken pox and the measles.


Efficacy and Challenges

There are many diseases that are vaccine-preventable and are currently on the schedule of standard vaccines for children.  Most of them are either viral or bacterial highly contagious lung infections, such as measles or pertussis. Vaccines have contributed to the eradication of smallpox, one of the most contagious and deadly diseases in humans. Other diseases such as rubella, polio, measles, mumps, chickenpox, and typhoid are nowhere near as common as they were a hundred years ago. As long as the vast majority of people are vaccinated, it is much more difficult for an outbreak of disease to occur, let alone spread. This effect is called herd immunity and what makes widespread vaccine use necessary. Still, if vaccines are so successful, why do so many people opt out?  Everyone’s reasons may be different but not all stick to their beliefs after an incident, such as in the case of the family who triggered a Disneyland measles outbreak.


Although, there are a few people who opt-out of vaccinations for personal issues often promoted by pseudoscience found on the web, the vast majority do opt in.  In fact, a very large number of people take advantage of no or low-cost vaccinations provided by public health departments.  Local health departments are doing an incredible job ensuring children are vaccinated on schedule and our communities can stay protected from these preventable diseases.  Local health departments review their paper immunization records (sometimes in foreign languages) and check status in immunization registries.  Modern apps-based Electronic Health Record software, connected to state immunization registries, can bring the needed efficiencies at the patient registration and point of immunization.  For health departments who focus primarily on immunizations, an Immunization App developed specifically for public health can provide easier and more efficient work flows. Based on current records, nurses can provide appropriate immunizations based on age and CDC recommendations.


Top 10 Vaccine-Preventable Diseases:

  1. Measles: A highly contagious lung infection.
  2. Whooping Cough (Pertussis): A lung infection that makes it hard to breathe due to severe coughing.
  3. Flu: A viral infection of the nose, lungs, and throat.
  4. Polio: A viral disease
  5. Pneumococcal Disease: A bacterial disease that can cause many types of illness, including pneumonia, ear and blood infections, and meningitis (which affects the brain and spinal cord).
  6. Tetanus: A bacterial disease that causes lockjaw, breathing problems, muscle spasms, paralysis, and death.
  7. Meningococcal Disease: A bacterial disease that can cause meningitis, an infection and swelling of the brain and spinal cord. It can also infect the blood.
  8. Hepatitis B: A liver disease caused by the hepatitis B virus.
  9. Tuberculosis: A bacterial disease that usually attacks the lungs.
  10. HIB (Haemophilus Influenza Type B): A bacterial disease that infects the lungs (pneumonia), brain or spinal cord (meningitis), blood, bone, or joints.

The debate about personal choice will continue.  People will make choices (good or bad), and public health departments will continue to do an amazing job at keeping the majority immunized against preventable diseases.  In that respect, Meaningful Use mandate of EHR and connectivity to Immunization registry is a good thing.

About Hope Alfaro

Hope Alfaro (Ahl-FAH-roh) is originally from Orlando, Florida but grew up in rural NC, She is addicted to knowledge and research and integrates these passions as a Marketing Executive for Patagonia Health. She created engaging content and news and keeps up to date with the latest health news to share with readers.