We Are Fortunate For Vaccines
The ultimate goal of vaccination programs is to prevent illness and eliminate disease. Worldwide vaccination efforts have successfully eliminated small pox, and we are close to eliminating polio. Smallpox was a deadly disease that killed one out of every 10 children in 19th century Europe and caused an estimated 50 million cases in the 1950s, leaving those who survived infection with scars and major health problems. Through aggressive vaccination efforts, small pox was eradicated completely by 1977. This success is a major reason behind continued immunization efforts and eradication programs for other vaccine-preventable diseases.
We are close to also eliminating wild polio worldwide. Before the introduction of the polio vaccine in 1955, polio was one of the most dreaded infectious diseases, as it often infected young children and left them paralyzed. In the U.S. alone, almost 500,000 cases of polio were reported between 1937 and 1997. Parents barred their children from going to movie theatres, swimming pools, or visiting with friends for fear that their child would be the next infected. Following the introduction of the National Vaccine Program, which provided vaccines to U.S. children, polio cases dropped drastically. Today, vaccinated children in the U.S. are no longer at risk of the paralytic and deadly effects of polio infection. International eradication efforts of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Rotary International, and others have successfully reduced the number of polio cases by 99 percent, but there is still work to be done in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Chad.
To keep this global progress on track, we must keep vaccinating our children in the U.S and supporting global immunization programs. Immunizing your child has a positive effect for everyone on this planet.
Across the world, millions of children do not have access to life-saving vaccines. Often parents cannot afford these life-saving vaccines or do not have access to adequate healthcare systems which transport and administer the shots. Organizations like GAVI Alliance and PATH are making inroads in this effort, but it takes funding, time and infrastructure (e.g. access to medical clinics) to coordinate a system to give all children necessary immunizations.
When you immunize you also help fund vaccine programs in other countries. Vaccine manufactures donate large amounts of vaccines to international programs. That simple shot your little guy or girl gets helps children everywhere get off to a healthy start. Parents in the U.S. are so fortunate to have the ability to protect our children with vaccines. When we immunize our children, we help to make the world a healthier place.