Vaccines are essential for a healthy society
In 1796 Edward Jenner developed the first vaccine. This vaccine was for smallpox, a disease that had been eradicated in the wild by 1980. A vaccination for measles became available in 1963. Measles is the fifth disease to be eliminated from the Americas, following smallpox (1971), polio (1994), and rubella and congenital rubella syndrome (2015). In all five cases, the Region was the first in the world to achieve elimination. Measles continues to circulate in other regions of the world, and countries in the Americas report sporadic imported cases. Per the World Health Organization (WHO), smallpox was eradicated in the wild in 1980, although small quantities of smallpox virus officially still exist in two research laboratories in Atlanta, Georgia, and in Russia.
With the development of the polio vaccine, Jonas Salk single-handedly put the iron lung industry out of business.
When I was a child the recommended vaccines were for smallpox, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio (OPV), measles, mumps, and rubella. For chicken pox, I had to play with the neighbor kids when they had it so I would get it and get over it. I would not wish the experience of chicken pox (and an increased risk for shingles as an adult) on anyone. In the Army I received these vaccinations and more when I arrived at Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri.
My son, born in 2000 was vaccinated against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, measles, mumps, rubella, polio (IPV), Hib, Hepatitis B, varicella, and Hepatitis A. As a pre-teen he was vaccinated against HPV after I consulted with my family doctor. In my doctor’s words, “It prevents [certain types] of cancer and it would be irresponsible not to have him vaccinated.” Before he entered college he was vaccinated against meningitis.
According to the Pan American Health Organization,
At the global level, measles continues to be one of the leading causes of death among young children, despite the fact that there is a safe and effective vaccine to prevent it. There is no specific antiviral treatment against the measles virus.
Before widespread vaccination began in 1980, measles caused 2.6 million deaths a year throughout the world, 12,000 of them in the Americas.
Between 1970 and 1979, Latin American countries reported about 220,000 cases of measles a year.
There has been a 95% drop in cases over a 35-year period, from 4.5 million cases in 1980 to approximately 244,700 in 2015.