If no one gets these diseases anymore, why does my child need to be immunized?

If no one gets these diseases anymore, why does my child need to be immunized?

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Unfortunately, there are still outbreaks of these highly contagious diseases – and some can lead to serious, even life-threatening complications. Cases of measles, mumps, pneumococcal disease, and whooping cough (pertussis) continue to appear in the United States with alarming frequency.

From January 1 to April 19, 2019, for example, the CDC confirmed 626 cases of measles in the United States. The number of cases in 2019 is expected to surpass that of the last outbreak in 2014, which had the greatest number of cases reported in the U.S. since measles was eliminated in 2000.

Babies and young children are particularly susceptible to these diseases, which is why we start vaccinating at birth.

For example, before the Hib vaccine became available, Hib disease was the most common cause of bacterial meningitis in babies and children.

Hib meningitis once killed 600 children a year in the United States and left many of those who survived deaf, with mental disabilities, or susceptible to seizures. Since the introduction of the Hib vaccine in 1987, the incidence of Hib has declined by 98 percent.

Even though many of the other diseases we vaccinate for are rare, if we take away the protection given by vaccination, more and more people will be infected and will gradually spread these diseases to others. Soon we'll undo the progress we've made over the years.

We know this because it happened: When measles vaccination rates in the United States dropped in the late 1980s, more than 50,000 people (mostly children) were hospitalized with the disease and 120 died from it. In 1998, when immunization rates were back up, only 89 people became sick from measles and no one died. And it’s happening again: Vaccination rates are dropping and we’re seeing measles outbreaks across the country.

Other diseases such as polio and diphtheria, though almost unheard of in this country, are still only a plane ride away. Even if you and your family never leave the country, many people do, and they can unwittingly carry these diseases back with them. So if you choose not to vaccinate, you'll have to be sure not only that your child doesn't travel, but also that he's not going to be exposed to others who have traveled.

Even rare diseases can reappear. If not enough people were vaccinated against diphtheria, for example, we might end up with a situation similar to what happened in the former Soviet Union. With the breakdown of the public health services there, fewer people were vaccinated and diphtheria epidemics began to occur. Between 1990 and 1999, there were more than 50,000 cases and 5,000 deaths from this once-rare disease.

Watch the video: WATCH: Number of parents refusing vaccines high and getting worse, pediatrician says (August 2022).

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