Fauci warns strengthening anti-vax movement may lead to ‘tragic and avoidable’ outbreaks among children

According to WHO data, the rates of typical childhood vaccinations have only fallen a point between 2021 and 2020

Graig Graziosi
Monday 19 September 2022 19:12 BST
Related video: Fauci comes out fighting on Fox News amid GOP threats to jail him

The White House's top medical adviser has issued a dire warning about anti-vaccine attitudes in the US; if children don't get immunised, it could lead to future outbreaks of otherwise preventable illnesses.

The Financial Times reports that Dr Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, said that anti-vaccine attitudes "might spill over into that kind of negative attitude towards childhood vaccinations, which would be very tragic."

"If you fall back on vaccines against common vaccine-preventable childhood diseases, that's where you wind up getting avoidable and unnecessary outbreaks."

He also told the publication that Congress was blocking billions dollars of funding that would otherwise have been used to combat the pandemic, and noted that some states were not promoting vaccination as a priority issue.

While childhood vaccinations were disrupted globally due to the coronavirus pandemic, US vaccination rates for typical childhood immunizations only fell a single point between 2020 and 2021, according to World Health Organisation data.

Dr Fauci said that US health officials needed to ramp up their efforts to counter misinformation campaigns on social media and to work on building the public's trust in vaccines and public health guidelines.

He recommended that state government and Congress work together to support those efforts.

That is easier said than done; Republican-led states, in particular Texas and Florida, have seen their leaders actively work to block vaccine mandates and other efforts to encourage residents to get immunized against Covid.

As recently as June, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis blocked a vaccine mandate for children, claiming — incorrectly — that children had "zero chance of getting anything." While children are typically much more resilient to the worst effects of the coronavirus, the Mayo Clinic reports that they represent about 19 per cent of all Covid cases reported in the US since the pandemic began.

Dr Fauci will be stepping down from his position in December after 38 years at the agency. He served under seven US presidents during his career in national public health.

He said he initially intended to step down after the 2020 election, but said Joe Biden asked him to stay on as an adviser while the nation continued to battle with Covid.

The doctor appears clear to leave now, as Mr Biden declared on CBS News' "60 Minutes' that the "pandemic is over," noting that the US still had a "problem with Covid" and that work was still being done to combat the virus.

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