From 1958 to 1962, over a half a million cases of measles are reported each year. 432 measles-related deaths occur on average each year. But in 1963, the measles vaccine was licensed. By 2000, only 81 cases of measles are reported in all of the U.S.! And, most of those in the children of parents who chose not to immunize their kids. In fact, it has just been announced that measles cases in England and Wales have risen by more than 70 percent in 2008 from the previous year, mostly because of unvaccinated children.
Consider the history of Hib meningitis. Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) disease usually strikes children under 5 years of age. Hib can cause blood poisoning or meningitis.
The first Hib vaccine was licensed in 1985. In 1998 fewer than 10 Hib deaths are reported. And, most of those in the children of parents who chose not to immunize their kids.
Polio, caused by a virus, was once America’s most feared disease, causing death or paralysis. Its most famous victim was President Franklin Roosevelt.
From 1951 to 1954, paralytic polio struck nearly 20,000 Americans every year, killing nearly 1,900. In 1955, the first polio vaccine was licensed. Today there are no reports of polio in the United States, but the disease still exists in some parts of the world.
Whooping cough, chickenpox, and other diseases still exist in the United States, causing serious illness and even death. When children aren’t immunized, diseases can return.
In Great Britain, people stopped immunizing for pertussis (whooping cough) in the early 70s. Within just a few years, a pertussis epidemic occurred—100,000 cases with 36 deaths.
In Japan similar events occurred: a decline in childhood pertussis vaccinations during the 70s, was followed by a pertussis epidemic—13,000 case and 41 deaths—in 1979.
A Disease Is More Than An Illness.
- Sick children are kept out of school. A child with chickenpox, for example, can miss one or more weeks of school.
- A child with a vaccine-preventable disease can experience physical pain, discomfort, trauma, long-term disabilities, or even death from an illness that could have been prevented with a vaccine.
- A sick child can also infect parents, sisters, brothers, other family members, friends, and classmates too!
- A sick child with a prolonged illness can impact a family’s financial resources. Parents must be there to care for a child, meaning loss of pay or use of vacation time.
- Sickness drains other financial resources. For example, for every dollar invested in the Diphtheria/Tetanus/Pertussis (DTaP) vaccine, the United States saves $27 in costs such as work-loss, death, and disability.
- Measles, Hib and polio are diseases that used to kill or handicap many young children. All have been controlled with vaccination.
- But when vaccination rates fall, epidemics can occur, because disease-causing viruses and bacteria still exist in nature.
- Immunizing protects the health of children and the emotional and financial well-being of their families and communities.
- Immunizing also protects the health of children who cannot be vaccinated, such as children with immune deficiencies or weakened immune systems due to medical treatments like chemotherapy.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website: Click “Vaccines & Immunizations,” then click “NIP Home Page” in the right column or go directly to the site here.
- National Immunization Hotline: 1-800-232-2522.
- Parent’s Guide to Childhood Immunization: Publication available online here.
- For information on vaccine testing and licensing go to the FDA website here.
- For information about local health care resources go here: or look under “public health” in the blue pages of your local phone book
- For information on children’s health insurance go here.