At the turn of the 21st century, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published an article about the 10 greatest public health achievements over the past 100 years, from 1900-1999. One of them was vaccination, which likely has saved millions of lives over the past 100 years.
Yet, in more recent years, some parents of infants and children have questioned the necessity and safety of vaccines. Grossly inaccurate information that wrongly linked vaccination to autism was a key factor. That claim has now been thoroughly debunked by countless high-level studies, but there is still skepticism about vaccination.
In addition to misinformation about safety, vaccination today faces questions from a new corner. Some parents have begun to question whether children still need vaccination for diseases that many of us never even see.
This reasoning is inaccurate and can be dangerous. The viral and bacterial pathogens that cause these diseases still exist. Only one disease – smallpox – has ever been eliminated from Earth.
Bottom line: We have vaccines that have prevented misery in millions of children. Vaccination not only works; it is a godsend. Why is there resistance to these? As a professor of pharmacy who specializes in pediatrics, I will try to explain.
When things get good, we forget when things were bad
Ironically, vaccines have been the victim of their own success.
When was the last time that you met or heard of someone in the United States with polio? Diphtheria? Rubella? Likely, never. However, morbidity statistics indicate that in the 20th century, each year in the United States, more than 16,000 were ill from polio, more than 21,000 were ill from diphtheria and more than 47,000 were ill from rubella.
In 2015, 0 cases of polio (a 100 percent reduction), 0 cases of diphtheria (a 100 percent reduction) and 10 cases of rubella (a more than 99 percent reduction) were reported in the U.S. These dramatic differences are a testament to the effectiveness and importance…