Our Best Shot at Preventing Infectious Diseases

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It may not feel like it outside, but fall will be here before we know it. And with fall comes an unwanted visitor: flu season.

August is National Immunization Awareness Month, which highlights the importance of vaccination for people of all ages. We’re talking about more than the flu shot, of course. Vaccines protect people of all ages from a variety of diseases, including whooping cough, meningitis, diphtheria and tetanus. Just last week, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell announced that she is shifting $81 million from other projects to continue work on developing a vaccine for the Zika virus.

Vaccines are among the most successful and cost-effective public health tools available for preventing disease and death. For children born in the U.S. during 1994-2013, vaccination will prevent an estimated 322 million illnesses, 21 million hospitalizations and 732,000 deaths over the course of their lifetimes.

Those of us in the health care industry know firsthand the importance of vaccines. The Texas Hospital Association encourages all hospital employees to stay up-to-date on recommended vaccines. After all, immunization is a shared responsibility.

Just ask those infected during last year’s multi-state measles outbreak. While no source was identified, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believes the outbreak likely started from a traveler who became infected overseas and then visited Disneyland in California. More than 100 cases were connected with this outbreak.

Vaccination saves lives. Learn more on the CDC website. And get your recommended shots.

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This is a guest post from THA Chairman John Henderson, CEO of Childress Regional Medical Center. Henderson testified this week before a joint hearing of the House Committee on Public Health on the importance of a strong trauma care system.

Like most of us, I spent last Thursday night transfixed by the news of the horrific tragedy unfolding in Dallas. In the days following the killing of five police officers and the wounding of nine others and two civilians, the complex issues of race and justice have taken center stage and dominated the national conversation.

These issues will take a long time to sort through, and we can be overwhelmed by them.

As is always the case though in these dark moments, there are examples of courage, hope, resilience and our better selves. Police running towards the shooter. A mom putting herself between bullets and her sons. An African-American trauma surgeon saving the lives of white police officers.

Our hospitals often are the place where light shines in the darkness. In these moments of devastation, our hospitals step in and heal not just the physical wounds but the emotional ones as well. On Thursday night and every day since, two of Dallas’ Level 1 trauma hospitals, Baylor University Medical Center and Parkland Memorial Hospital, have been providing around-the-clock care for the wounded, their families and colleagues.

Their work will continue long after the media attention has waned for as long as their patients need care. And, they will provide the same compassion and commitment to saving lives for every trauma patient who comes through their doors. Because it’s what they do. It’s why they exist.

It’s why every trauma hospital exists. There may be no national spotlight on University Medical Center in Lubbock or Citizens Medical Center in Victoria or Baptist Medical Center in San Antonio or any of the more than 280 other trauma-designated hospitals across our state, but the same life-saving work is going on every single day.

And it deserves support.

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