President Obama and Governor Romney tackle 14 science questions in this Scientific American article. The last set of answers (below) will be of interest to our readers. Topics included 1. Innovation and the Economy, 2. Climate Change, 3. Research and the Future, 4. Pandemics and Biosecurity, 5. Education, 6. Energy, 7. Food, 8. Fresh Water, 9. The Internet, 10. Ocean Health, 11. Science in Public Policy, 12. Space, 13. Critical Natural Resources.
The final question, #14, is below. Not sure why heart disease treatments aren't as pressing as vaccination. Or cancer prevention. Or obesity control. Each of which impacts America in all aspects of health and science, none of which warranted a question - like vaccination.
14. Vaccination and public health. Vaccination campaigns against preventable diseases such as measles, polio and whooping cough depend on widespread participation to be effective, but in some communities vaccination rates have fallen off sharply. What actions would you support to enforce vaccinations in the interest of public health, and in what circumstances should exemptions be allowed?
Today, there are too many Americans who do not get the preventive health care services they need to stay healthy. Many people put off preventive care because the deductibles and copays are too expensive. That’s why I fought for the Affordable Care Act, which will make sure all Americans have access to quality preventive health care services. Under the Affordable Care Act, Americans can now get vital preventive services – including the full suite of routine vaccines recommend by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices – with no co-pay or deductible. The health care law also created the Prevention and Public Health Fund, an investment in promoting wellness, preventing disease, and investing in public health infrastructure across the country. It will help us transform our health care system from a focus on sickness and disease to a focus on prevention and wellness. The law also proves authority to states to purchase adult vaccines with state funds at federally-negotiated prices, supporting state vaccination programs. Ultimately, I believe the health care law is a significant step forward in ensuring that every American has access to the preventive care and immunizations that they need to stay healthy.
The first priority must be to ensure that America has adequate supplies of safe and effective vaccines. Making vaccines requires complex facilities and highly skilled workers, which means that America must continue to strengthen its advanced manufacturing capabilities.
Second, preventing outbreaks of these diseases also requires that these vaccines are used effectively. The vaccines only work to prevent outbreaks when a sufficient number of people are protected from the diseases and thus able to stop a bug from spreading from one person to the next, which means that the vast majority of Americans need to take steps to receive vaccinations.
Finally, America must have a robust research and development enterprise capable of constantly improving on the tools available to prevent these diseases. That means taking steps to ensure that America remains the most attractive place to develop and commercialize innovative, life-saving products like vaccines. The issue of medical innovation has arisen at several points throughout this survey, underscoring its importance to America’s scientific and economic leadership in the coming years. America has historically dominated the field, but uncompetitive policies in areas ranging from taxation to regulation to trade and human capital are threatening that leadership. Recent years have seen an unprecedented exodus of investment from the United States to more innovation-friendly markets. My innovation agenda, detailed above, is aimed at reversing that tide.