State hopes to strengthen 'herd' against measles

In this Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015 photo, a pediatrician holds a dose of the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine at his practice in Northridge, Calif. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

The surge of viruses that caused pediatric hospitals across the nation to reach a breaking point and exceed their capacity has filled the national news this fall and winter. As pediatric residents in Tennessee, we, along with other frontline health care workers, have witnessed firsthand the burden this has placed on our hospitals and clinics. Over the past one to two years of our training, we have seen how several viruses can impact and cripple the health care system the children of Tennessee rely on for routine and emergency care. Whether it’s respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), flu, or COVID-19, numerous viruses have tested the limits of the pediatric care our state can safely provide.

With our hospital systems already stretched thin, this is the worst time to have a resurgence of vaccine preventable childhood illnesses. For generations, the children of our state have been protected from illnesses such as measles, polio, and many others with the help of vaccines. Sadly, Tennessee vaccination rates have fallen dramatically in recent years.

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