Press Room

Current Measles Outbreaks Should Alarm Every American and Highlight the Critical Importance of Vaccination Programs

ARLINGTON, VA (Mar. 5, 2019)—John Wiesman, DrPH, MPH, secretary of health at the Washington State Department of Health and immediate past president of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) testified today before the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) on the growing number of infectious disease outbreaks impacting the country. The hearing, “Vaccines Save Lives: What Is Driving Preventable Disease Outbreaks?” provided members of Congress the opportunity to discuss the current measles outbreaks affecting several states, along with children’s health and vaccinations and significant gaps in public health funding for programs to address preventable outbreaks.

“Every American should be alarmed by the current measles outbreaks occurring in many states. Measles is an entirely preventable disease and we must redouble our efforts as a nation to spread the truth that vaccines save lives and address parental concerns about vaccinating their children,” says Wiesman. “No one should live in fear of contracting this disease and it is part of my mission as a public health official to protect the lives of American people. I am deeply grateful to the Senate HELP Committee for bringing broader awareness to the importance of vaccinations and better understanding the current gaps that exist in the public health system. Addressing these outbreaks will require a strong and coordinated response from federal, state, and local governments.”

Wiesman recently authored an op-ed citing concerns about the nation’s public health system, which has suffered as a result of chronic underfunding as the population continues to grow. We are constantly reacting to crises rather than working to prevent them, Wiesman says. ASTHO and 80 other organizations are requesting Congress to raise CDC’s budget 22 percent by 2022 to address growing public health threats, including support for state and territorial vaccination programs, in order to protect our nation’s health system.

For more information and to read Wiesman’s testimony, visit the committee’s website.


ASTHO is the national nonprofit organization representing the public health agencies of the United States, the U.S. territories and freely associated states, and the District of Columbia, as well as the more than 100,000 public health professionals these agencies employ. ASTHO members, the chief health officials of these jurisdictions, are dedicated to formulating and influencing sound public health policy and to ensuring excellence in public health practice.