Author: Xinshu She, MD, MPH

Dispatch from Haiti: We can do better on childhood vaccination coverage

Xinshu She Haiti nurses rounding childhood vaccination

I will never forget the first time I saw a child die of a vaccine-preventable disease. I walked into a room in a busy Haitian hospital (where I spend 6 months each year working as a fellow with Boston Children’s Global Health Program) to find an 8-year-old boy gasping for air. A thick, greyish white coating covered his mouth and throat, and his body burned like it was on fire. I had seen it only in textbooks before—a classic late presentation of a diphtheria infection.

A few hours later, despite our best efforts and timely antibiotics, the child died of acute respiratory failure. I remember sitting in the doctor’s room, staring into the space and overwhelmed by an intense wave of sadness. This child could have lived, if he had been vaccinated. This should never have happened.

Coming back to work in Boston usually reminds me of how fortunate we are in the U.S. Relative to most countries, we have an abundance of resources, trained providers and infrastructures aimed at both preventing and treating disease. However, this summer’s Center for Disease Control (CDC) annual report on vaccination coverage among children in kindergarten shocked me. …Read More

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