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Unvaccinated Minnesota Child Dies from Hib Meningitis

Rise in Vaccine Exemptors Leads to Outbreaks of Deadly, Preventable Diseases

WASHINGTON, DC (Jan. 27, 2009) - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced last week that five children in Minnesota have been infected with the bacterial infection Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) resulting in the death of one and serious complications for the remaining four.  Parents chose not to vaccinate three of the infected children, including the child who died.  One was too young to have completed the full series and the fifth infant received his primary vaccinations but suffered from an immune disorder which would have qualified him for a booster dose at twelve to fifteen months.  The family was unaware of the child’s condition and, due to a Hib vaccine shortage, physicians have been asked to defer the booster dose for non-risk children.  The CDC still recommends Hib vaccines for all children at two, four and six months of age.

“It is completely unacceptable that a child has died from a vaccine-preventable disease,” said Amy Pisani, executive director of Every Child By Two.  “How many children must die before parents realize that there are consequences to not immunizing their children?  Misinformation about the safety of vaccines, particularly an alleged link to autism, has scared many parents into believing their children are at risk from vaccines.  Children are left vulnerable to deadly diseases when not vaccinated on time.”

Pediatrician and author Dr. Ari Brown expressed concern over the outbreaks, “These five cases of very serious Hib disease in Minnesota remind us that these diseases are very real and very dangerous,” said the author of the popular Baby 411 parenting guides, “It is a reminder that the CDC recommended vaccination schedule protects infants and young children as soon as it is safe to do so.  Delaying or staggering vaccines in an ‘alternative’ schedule leaves the most vulnerable at risk.”

“Yet another recent study published in the journal Pediatrics confirmed there is no link between vaccines and autism,” said Dr. Deborah Wexler, executive director of the Minnesota-based Immunization Action Coalition.  Twelve studies have been conducted worldwide confirming that MMR vaccine does not cause autism and six large studies have demonstrated there is no link between the preservative thimerosal, a preservative formerly used in some vaccines, and autism.  “Parents need to trust in the scientific evidence that vaccines are safe, effective, and very necessary – we can’t afford to lose one more child due to misguided beliefs about vaccines.”

In recent months, officials have also reported outbreaks in cases of measles and pertussis.

Danielle Romaguera, a mother who lost her one month old infant Gabrielle to pertussis, expressed her sadness at the current Hib outbreak, “It’s very difficult for my husband and me to learn that another family is suffering because of a preventable disease,” she said.  Infants too young to be vaccinated like Gabrielle depend on the community for protection to keep the disease at bay.  “It is my greatest fear that parents who believe false information about vaccine safety won’t immunize their babies and will experience the heartache of having to watch their babies suffer the way Gabrielle did.”


Every Child By Two, the Rosalynn Carter/Betty Bumpers Organization for Early Childhood Immunization, works to ensure that all children receive timely immunizations and continues to seek methods to institutionalize vaccine delivery and ensure access to vaccines for all children. For more information, please visit www.ecbt.org and www.vaccinateyourbaby.org