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Dr. Lee B. Smith participates in vaccine panel on Capitol Hill

Dr. Lee B. Smith participates in vaccine panel on Capitol Hill

Jun. 4, 2024

Dr. Lee B. Smith, Monongalia County Health Department’s health officer, was recently invited to serve on a briefing panel, “The Importance of a Strong Immunization Infrastructure,” on Capitol Hill in mid-May, in coordination with Congressman Adam Schiff and Senator Jack Reed. “I was very honored to be asked to participate in this important briefing of legislators and their staff members,” Dr. Smith said. “While there are avenues to provide vaccines for children, we see major gaps in vaccination rates and the spread of diseases once thought eradicated. Having programs that allow provision of vaccines for adults is a matter of growing importance and failing to do so has far reaching costs and health impacts.”
Although West Virginia is plagued by many chronic health problems, Dr. Smith noted, “One bright spot is and has been our wonderful vaccination program for children attending public schools.”
However, a vocal minority rally at the Legislature in the attempt to change the state’s strong vaccination laws.
“A common cry is that people know their rights, and citizens do indeed have rights, but what is not discussed is that citizens also have responsibilities,” Dr. Smith said. “Not everybody may be vaccinated for medical reasons, which may be from issues with their immune system and we as good citizens should consider how they may be protected by our actions.”
It is the responsibility of public health entities to prevent disease, protect the public and promote public health, he noted.
“If one looks at what advances have saved the most lives on earth, after clean water and sanitation, it is vaccinations.
“There are approximately 17 vaccine-preventable diseases. We have just seen how our high vaccination rates for measles helped stop the spread of this important disease in our community.”





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