Dean Ann Kurth ’90 MSN, PhD, CNM, MPH, FAAN recently coauthored the paper “The Public Health Crisis of Underimmunization: A Global Plan of Action”in the United Kingdom journal “The Lancet.”
In summary, the piece concludes that vaccination is one of public health’s greatest achievements, responsible for saving billions of lives. Yet, 20% of children worldwide are not fully protected, leading to 1.5 million child deaths annually from vaccine-preventable diseases. Millions more people have severe disabling illnesses, cancers, and disabilities stemming from underimmunization. Reasons for falling vaccination rates globally include low public trust in vaccines, constraints on affordability or access, and insufficient governmental vaccine investments.
Consequently, an emerging crisis in vaccine hesitancy ranges from hyperlocal to national and worldwide. Outbreaks often originate in small, insular communities with low immunization rates. Local outbreaks can spread rapidly, however, transcending borders. Following an assessment of underlying determinants of low vaccination rates, we offer an action based on scientific evidence, ethics, and human rights that spans multiple governments, organizations, disciplines, and sectors.
In addition to serving as dean, Kurth is also the Linda Koch Lorimer Professor of Nursing and Professor of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases at Yale School of Public Health.