PORTLAND, Maine — Each year in August, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) promotes the importance of immunizations to the health and well-being of Americans of all ages. Vaccines can prevent serious diseases like the flu, measles, and pertussis. Since introducing vaccines, the rates of vaccine-preventable diseases have greatly decreased. But diseases that are almost unknown would stage a comeback if we stopped vaccinating our children, adults and older adults.
Leading into this important awareness month, Vax Maine Kids, the MaineHealth Childhood Immunizations Program, and Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital at Maine Medical Center will host Maine’s first showing of the film, “Invisible Threat” – an educational documentary written, filmed and edited by high school broadcast journalists from Carlsbad, California on the controversy surrounding immunizations. The film explores some of the societal risks associated with under-vaccinating.
The public is invited to this free showing at 5 p.m. Wednesday, July 23, at the Portland Public Library. A panel discussion will follow the film. The expert panel will include: Larry Losey, M.D., of Brunswick Pediatrics, Laura Blaisdell, M.D., MPH, of Intermed Pediatrics and Researcher at Maine Medical Center Research Institute, Center for Outcomes Research & Evaluation, Jeri Greenwell, parent and Maine advocate for the National Meningitis Association; Emily Rines, MPH, CHES Community Impact Director at United Way of Greater Portland, and Stephen Sears, M.D., MPH, Chief of Staff, VA Maine Healthcare Systems and former Maine State Epidemiologist.
This discussion comes on the heels of a record number of measles cases this year in the U.S. From January 1 to June 20, 2014, there have been 514 confirmed measles cases in 20 states – the highest number of cases since measles was eliminated in the U.S. in 2000. In addition, there has been a 24 percent increase in cases of pertussis compared to last year. The majority of these cases have been among those who are unvaccinated. In the midst of declining vaccination rates, “Invisible Threat” explores some of the societal risks associated with under-vaccinating.
Visit www.vaxmainekids.org to learn more about this event and upcoming immunization events.