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A federal advisory committee has recommended that the government spend up to $50 million more each year to prevent future measles epidemics.

In a report adopted last week, the National Vaccine Advisory Committee said most of the 25,000 cases of measles reported in the United States last year, as well as the 18,000 cases the year before, could have been prevented.

The problem, said the panel, is that many inner-city children are not being vaccinated against the disease at the recommended age of 15 months. And unless the medical system removes the barriers that inhibit parents from having their children immunized--such as requiring appointments for immuni6zations rather than providing them on request, and failing to have sufficient staff or clinic hours--there will be more measles outbreaks in the future, the panel said.

The report, prepared by 15 doctors and other public-health experts, said that total federal spending on immunizations, now $217 million a year, should increase by $40 million to $50 million annually.

In a related development, a new study reports that hospital emergency rooms in inner cities may be responsible for spreading the measles virus.

The study, which appeared in the January issue of Pediatrics, found that nearly one-fourth of the measles cases in Los Angeles and more than one-third of the cases in Houston during 1988-89 could be traced to one inner-city emergency room in each city. In both cities, unvaccinated children were exposed to the virus in the emergency room, the study found.

Vol. 10, Issue 17

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