Orin Levine, Director of Vaccine Delivery at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, shared why he believes in vaccination in an early interview with The Optimist. He recently wrote a new piece for CBS on how resurgent measles outbreaks are underscoring the importance of vaccines. Please find an excerpt below, which originally appeared in February’s edition of The Optimist newsletter.
When immunization coverage drops, everyone is more vulnerable. In today’s interconnected world, it’s easy for an international traveler to bring back a disease like measles that can then spread in our communities—the reason for the three current outbreaks in the U.S. That’s why outbreaks of infectious diseases anywhere are a threat to us everywhere.
The good news is we can stop outbreaks.
How? First, by following the advice of trusted doctors and experts who spend their careers researching the safety and efficacy of vaccines. As a trained scientist, I can point to countless studies that illustrate how the benefits of vaccination far outweigh the risks. I can give you figures on how over 90 percent of children who get the shot are protected from measles. And I can share facts that show side effects from vaccines—like pain and fever—are exceedingly rare. But, most importantly, I can tell you with certainty that getting a vaccine is the best way to be protected from dangerous, debilitating and potentially deadly diseases.
However, we know that facts alone aren’t enough to change our minds. If they were, I’d never skip a day at the gym or eat a cheeseburger instead of a salad. Open dialogue with people you trust is key to helping us prevent further outbreaks. Now, more than ever, people need to share their stories about why they vaccinate their children and get vaccinated themselves and listen to the concerns of those who don’t. The more we engage each other in a conversation that respects one another’s views, the more likely we are to advance the conversation.