Vaccines are important

Vaccines are a huge success story. 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 was 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. However, England and Germany still have very high rates of measles.
  • Since the introduction of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, the rate of serious pneumococcal infection in children younger than 5 has fallen from 80 per 100,000 children to fewer than 1 per 100,000 children.
  • Routine rotavirus vaccination, implemented in 2006, has decreased the rate of emergency room visits and hospitalization for dehydration by 70 percent.
  • Some diseases, such as influenza, still are common worldwide and can spread quickly. More than 150 children died from influenza in this country in 2012.
  • 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.