Best shots

June 19, 2000

TALK ABOUT vaccines and most people think about the shots -- not the scourges that led to their development. It's easy to forget that less than a century ago, disastrous outbreaks of influenza, polio, diphtheria and whooping cough devastated families and communities.

But what we need to remember is that these dangerous illnesses have not disappeared. Without proper immunization, they will strike again, as did a measles outbreak in the early 1990s that left 100 Americans dead and 43,000 ill.

A Senate-ordered study has found that immunization funding is struggling to keep pace with demand and a rising number of adults and children are vulnerable.

Such news is no less than a call to arms for lawmakers and health practitioners. We must be vigilant about keeping preventable illness at bay.

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