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Vaccines: The Secret Weapon

Though vaccines have successfully minimized risk, a lot of vaccine-preventable diseases are still infecting people today.

Every parent wants their children to grow up healthy and strong. A huge part of ensuring a child’s health is dealing with every illness promptly. Fortunately, a lot of childhood diseases are easily avoided. Yet every year, millions of people in the United States suffer from a variety of diseases like measles, tetanus, or rabies — all easily preventable via vaccination.

What are VPDs?

Vaccines prevent 2–3 million deaths per year globally. However, vaccine-preventable diseases (VPDs) still cause 1.5 million deaths worldwide. Many parents think diseases like chickenpox or polio are things of the past. We only think that way because vaccines have been so effective in preventing these terrible diseases. Here’s a rundown of some of the most common vaccine-preventable diseases.

  • Chickenpox: Though seen as a mild disease, chickenpox can result in bleeding disorders, brain swelling, and pneumonia. It’s transmitted over the air and through direct contact. The varicella vaccine offers robust protection.
  • Measles: A potentially fatal disease, measles causes rash, fever, brain swelling, and pneumonia. In 2018 alone, more than 140,000 people died from measles — primarily children under 5 years old.
  • Diphtheria: Beginning with a mild fever, diphtheria can eventually lead to heart failure, coma, and death.
  • Hepatitis (A & B):Both forms of hepatitis attack the liver, leading to liver failure, liver cancer, and associated disorders. They often show no symptoms until the disease is quite advanced, but well-established vaccines protect against them both.
  • Rabies: According to the CDC, someone is treated for rabies exposure every 10 minutes. It can be contracted from almost-invisible scratches and bites from wildlife, but it’s easily preventable via vaccination.
  • Pertussis: Known as whooping cough, this disease appears as severe cough and apnea. In 2017, there were nearly 19,000 cases of whooping cough.
  • Polio: Despite having one of the most successful vaccines, the disease remains a threat. Victims may show no symptoms at all, but eventually leading to paralysis and death.
  • Tetanus: Contracted through cuts and open wounds, this terrible disease can cause muscle stiffness that affects the ability to swallow and breathe.
  • Meningitis: A bacterial infection of the brain and spinal cord, it progresses rapidly, and immediate treatment is necessary.
  • Mumps: Once thought eradicated via an aggressive vaccination program, there have been thousands of new cases since 2006.

Some parents assume that many of these diseases are no longer a threat because successful vaccination programs have nearly eradicated them. Vaccinating your children against these common VPDs is the only way to ensure protection from them. You should consult your physician about a vaccination schedule.

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