Dr. Ravi Jhaveri discusses the importance of vaccines.

Measles outbreak sparks national debate

Pediatric infectious diseases specialist, Dr. Ravi Jhaveri, speaks out on the U.S. measles outbreak.

Measles outbreak sparks national debate click to enlarge Dr. Ravi Jhaveri (center) works with a patient at UNC Children's.

By Ravi Jhaveri, MD
Associate Professor, Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, UNC School of Medicine

The ongoing national measles outbreak has sparked fierce debate on both sides of the issue: mandating vaccines for the public good vs. a parent’s right to refuse vaccination. 

As pediatricians and advocates of children’s health, we at UNC Children’s strongly endorse that all children should be immunized according to the recommended schedules, with the exception of those with valid medical exemptions. Vaccines are safe. Vaccines save lives.

As recently as 2013, North Carolina saw a large outbreak of measles that began and spread very much the same way the current one centered in California did: a child that traveled internationally brought the illness back to a community that refused vaccines. 

Outbreaks like these serve as a reminder that the risk of vaccine-preventable illnesses is reduced or eliminated only with the ongoing and persistent efforts of everyone involved: families, physicians, public health officials. When there is a falloff in the numbers of those getting vaccinated, outbreaks like this one can occur—in this case measles, but it can happen with other infections, as well, including pertussis (whooping cough), mumps, and bacterial meningitis, among others.

If you have questions or concerns about vaccines, please discuss them with your pediatrician or primary care doctor.

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Dr. David Tayloe treats a patient at his practice in Greensboro.
David Tayloe, Jr., MD, FAAP, a community pediatrician from Goldsboro, N.C., and a past president of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the N.C. Pediatric Society, wrote an opinion editorial for the News & Observer that offers a pediatrician’s perspective. Notably, he writes, “I have been practicing high-volume primary care pediatrics for over 37 years and have never seen a child who suffered with any permanent injury or illness because of a childhood vaccine. I have seen children die from vaccine-preventable diseases.”

Dr. Tayloe graduated from the UNC School of Medicine in 1974 and completed two pediatric residencies before establishing a private pediatric practice in 1977 in the then under-served community of Goldsboro. The solo practice grew in the ensuing decades and now encompasses four offices and over 20 clinical staff who care for more than 40,000 children in rural eastern North Carolina.