Tina Tan, MD, FAAP, FIDSA, FPIDS, discusses vaccine hesitancy and hopes to increase vaccination for preventable diseases in 2024.
Interview transcript (edited for clarity):
What trends did you observe in 2023 and what do you hope to see going into 2024, related to infectious disease?
Tina Tan, MD, FAAP, FIDSA, FPIDS:
What I've been seeing, maybe my views a little skewed because I'm an infectious diseases, we've been seeing much more in the way of number and severity of some of the vaccine preventable diseases, especially pneumococcal disease. That has really been very eye opening in terms of the fact that during the pandemic, we really had a drop off in terms of severe bacterial infections. We didn't see as much pneumococcal disease, we saw very little group A Streptococcus disease, h flu disease, nontypeable h flu disease, and then as soon as the major part of the pandemic basically had passed, and all the protective mitigation protocols had been lifted, we started to see here at the hospital, really severe pneumococcal disease, really severe group A strep disease.
I can just tell you in 1 week, I had 10 kids in the hospital with group A strep toxic shock at one point or another. I've had a number of kids with pneumococcal pneumonia and meningitis, and nontypeable h flu bacteremia. So it's been very eye opening with regards to how, we didn't understand before how some of these protective mitigation protocols really what the effect where it was and now we're sort of seeing that these organisms have not gone away. It's just that once we lift certain protective measures, they come storming back, and that's really what we've seen.
So it's been great that we've had the release of extended valency pneumococcal conjugate vaccines, which will protect against more serotypes that causing that kind of disease.
In 2024, what are you hoping for when it comes to pediatric health care?
There's always room for optimism. I mean, I think what I hope for next year is that we are able to overcome some of the increased vaccine hesitancy that we've been experiencing and get more of the kids up to date on their immunizations, so that it will prevent some of these vaccine preventable diseases that are now starting to be emerge. We've had outbreaks of measles outbreaks of pertussis, so if people get their children vaccinated when they should, my hope is that we will basically stop these outbreaks from occurring.