Physician Focus for March: The Measles Outbreak and The Value of Vaccines

The current measles outbreak, which began last December in Disney World and has since led to more than 150 cases in 17 states, is a stark reminder that diseases once declared eliminated can, without vigilance, return easily and spread quickly.

To remind patients about the benefits of immunization, the March episode of Physician Focus examines the current outbreak, how it came about, and why vaccines merit its place on the list of the top ten greatest public health achievements of the 20th century.

Guests are George Abraham, M.D., (photo, center) a board-certified infectious disease specialist, Associate Chief of Medicine at Saint Vincent Hospital in Worcester, Professor of Medicine at UMass Medical School, and Governor of the Massachusetts Chapter of the American College of Physicians, and Sean Palfrey, M.D., (right) a pediatrician at Boston Medical Center, Clinical Professor of Pediatrics and Public Health at Boston University School of Medicine and the founder and director of the Immunization Initiative of the Massachusetts Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Hosting this edition is primary care physician Bruce Karlin, M.D. (left).

Among the topics of discussion are how once-eradicated diseases like measles can return and spread, how dangerous childhood diseases can be and why people tend to discount their severity, the risks of not getting vaccinated, how herd immunity to protect the public’s health is determined, how misinformation about medicines can spread quickly, how physicians may deal with patients and their parents who have questions or reservations about vaccines, and the importance of immunization for adults as well as children.

Physician Focus, now in its 11th consecutive year of production, is available for viewing on public access television stations throughout Massachusetts. It is also available online at www.physicianfocus.org, www.massmed.org/physicianfocus, and on YouTube.

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