Vaccines and public policy

Department of Preventive Medicine, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, TN, USA.
Human Vaccines & Immunotherapeutics (Impact Factor: 2.37). 06/2012; 8(6):702-5. DOI: 10.4161/hv.21037
Source: PubMed


My commitment to vaccines had its beginnings in an unlikely fashion. I just had completed two years of an internal medicine residency as well as two years of clinical and research training in infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee. Now it was time to fulfill my national service obligation (Selective Service--"the draft") that all young men had back in the 1960s. Because of my interest in infectious diseases, it had been suggested that, rather than serving in the Army, I apply for a Commission in the US Public Health Service. To my delight and considerable surprise I had been accepted and I reported for training and further assignment to the Communicable Disease Center in Atlanta (now the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-CDC) as a newly minted Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) Officer. Under the stern guidance of Alexander Langmuir, CDC's chief epidemiologist, each cadre of novice EIS Officers were immersed in the principles and practice of investigative field epidemiology which transformed clinicians such as myself who had heretofore focused on the illnesses of single patients into public health physicians who worked to ensure the health of entire communities. The 6-week instruction period was both demanding and inspiring. It instilled an esprit de corps; and at the completion of our training we were eager to undertake our new roles as "disease detectives" in our duty assignments. Mine was to be at the state health department in Rhode Island. Which is where I encountered measles and measles vaccine.

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    ABSTRACT: Public health is a medical area of specialization focused on the search for and control of health risk factors in communities, nations and the world. To accomplish this, public health specialists team up with clinicians and scientists to journey from the community to the bedside, the lab bench and back, investigating disease sources and modes of transmission. This article highlights the historical roots of public health, methods of investigation, main advances, and its current and future challenges.
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