Vaccines are nothing new, and have never been a more important topic than right now as COVID-19 vaccinations are widely available for nearly all ages. Throughout the pandemic, we’ve heard how a vaccine can help prevent the spread of COVID-19, but it isn’t the only star of the show when it comes to preventing illnesses. In the U.S., vaccines are responsible for almost entirely eliminating many illnesses.
Diseases That Are Less Common in the U.S. Because of Vaccinations
Epiglottitis: This disease can cause a severe sore throat, respiratory distress or completely close an airway. Epiglottitis is largely prevented by the Haemophilus influenzae vaccine.
Meningitis: This illness causes inflammation in the linings of the brain and/or spinal cord and is often deadly if caused by bacteria. The Haemophilus influenzae, pneumococcal and meningococcal vaccines are given for meningitis.
Whooping Cough: Symptoms of this illness include a severe, long-lasting cough that can cause respiratory distress, and, especially in younger patients, can develop into pneumonia. DTap and Tdap vaccines help prevent this illness.
Chickenpox: This illness is largely prevented by the varicella vaccine. This illness causes an itchy rash and fever, and rarely can cause encephalitis (inflammation in the brain).
Rotavirus: This virus is most common in children six months to two years of age and causes severe vomiting and diarrhea. It is prevented by the rotavirus vaccine.
Diseases That Are Rarely Seen in the U.S. Due to Vaccinations
Diphtheria: This is a severe throat infection that causes an incredibly sore throat and in extreme cases can cause heart toxicity, which can cause damage to heart muscles or valves. The same vaccines used to prevent whooping cough — DTap and Tdap — are given to prevent this illness.
Measles and Mumps: The MMR vaccine is used to prevent both illnesses. Measles is an extremely contagious virus that causes fever and rash, and can result in encephalitis, or death. Mumps can cause fever, swollen glands and in severe cases, meningitis.
A Disease No Longer Seen in the U.S. Due to Vaccinations:
Polio: Polio is a potentially deadly virus that can affect the brain and spinal cord and has been entirely eliminated in the U.S. due to the polio vaccine.
Infections with all of these diseases can be mild, but without vaccination there is a risk for serious complications. Vaccines help ensure patients have mild symptoms if they contract an illness that they have been vaccinated against.
Having a vaccinated population in the U.S. has helped eliminate the commonality of potentially deadly illnesses and creates protection for our youngest or sickest members of the population. Choosing to protect your child helps protect your community as well.