Vaccines are important
Vaccines are a huge success story in the history of our nation. Diseases that still are widespread in other countries are less common in the U.S. because of immunization programs:
- Polio is one example. Polio can result in paralysis and death. In the early 1950s, there were 15,000 cases of polio each year in the U.S. In 1955, the U.S. government gave permission to distribute a vaccine developed by Jonas Salk, MD. During the next 10 years, there was a large drop in polio cases. In 1994, the World Health Organization declared that polio is wiped out in the Americas.
- The measles vaccine is another success story. Per the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, there are estimated to be 20 million cases of measles and 164,000 deaths each year. But the MMR vaccine has greatly reduced measles in the U.S. Still there were 222 cases of measles reported in the U.S. in 2011.
- Following the introduction of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, an estimated 211,000 serious pneumococcal infections and 13,000 deaths were prevented fom 2000 to 2008.
- Routine rotavirus vaccination, implemented in 2006, now prevents an estimated 40,000-60,000 rotavirus hospitalizations each year. Age-specific mortality (for example, deaths per million population) from varicella for children and teens younger than age 20 declined by 97 percent from 0.65 in the prevaccine period (1990-1994) to 0.02 during 2005-2007.
- Some diseases, such as influenza, still are common worldwide and these diseases can spread quickly. For example, in 2009, H1N1 influenza was declared a pandemic just 8 weeks after it was first identified in Mexico.
- Vaccinations are important for adults, too. Everyone should receive the new tetanus/pertussis vaccine and also get a yearly flu vaccine to help protect themselves and those around them.