The acceleration of an anti-vaxxer attitude in certain segments of the population in the United States risks causing non-COVID virus outbreaks in the country, the nation’s top infectious disease expert has warned.
President Biden’s chief medical adviser and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, expressed his concern in a new interview that the anti-vaxxer attitude of some Americans might spill over into a negative attitude towards childhood vaccinations.
According to the report released by the World Health Organization (WHO) in July, childhood vaccination declined more during the COVID-19 pandemic than at any time in the past three decades.
Fauci reiterated how some states have not promoted COVID-19 vaccination and criticized Congress for failing to advance billions of dollars in funding. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) data, the COVID-19 vaccination rate amongst US adults is still at 67%, well below other countries.
Dr. Fauci warned that the US will wind up getting avoidable and unnecessary outbreaks if they fall back on vaccines against common vaccine-preventable childhood diseases.
The vaccine skepticism that surged during the Covid-19 pandemic could decrease childhood immunization rates for other viruses and result in the resurgence of childhood diseases as cases of polio and measles that have made comebacks across the country.
A state of emergency was declared in New York last week by Gov. Kathy Hochul due to the spread of polio through wastewater, which has also pushed the state to ramp up immunization against the virus. Earlier this month, Fauci also said that the US should prepare for a bad flu season.
Although he underscored the political division as one factor driving anti-vaccine sentiment, Dr. Fauci stressed that officials should also escalate efforts to build back the trust between public health organizations and Americans and to correct vaccine misinformation the social media disseminated.