Every day we hear about the power of vaccines and their tremendous impact on public health. But have you ever wondered what this effect would be if it was put into numbers? Well, wonder no more!
In November 2013, Donald Burke and co-workers published a paper in the New England Journal of Medicine that estimated the number of cases of diseases prevented by vaccines. Here are some highlights from their findings:
Meningitis is an inflammation of the meninges, the protective covering that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. Bacteria or viruses can cause meningitis. Bacterial meningitis is caused by infection with bacteria, such as Neisseria meningitidis, Streptococcus pneumoniae, and Haemophilus influenzae type b and tends to be more severe. Luckily, we have vaccines against some of the most common and deadly causes of bacterial meningitis. Viral meningitis is caused by viruses, such as mumps, varicella-zoster, measles, influenza and herpes simplex virus (HSV). Most people survive viral meningitis. Because many different pathogens cause meningitis, it’s important to note that one vaccine will not protect you from all causes of meningitis.
In 2011, more than 1,900 cases of malaria were reported in the United States. All cases occurred in travelers who visited countries where malaria is circulating, such as Africa, Asia, the Americas, the Middle East and Oceania. Although most cases were uncomplicated, 275 were considered severe and resulted in five deaths. Cases were reported in almost every state in the U.S., with most cases being reported in New York, California, Maryland, Florida, Texas, New Jersey and Georgia. Check out the map below to see the number of cases of malaria reported in your state.
In 2000, measles was declared eliminated from the United States. Unfortunately, measles outbreaks in other parts of the world have led to increases in the number of cases being diagnosed in the U.S.
According to the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) report in the September 13, 2013, issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 159 cases of measles were diagnosed between January 1 and August 24, 2013.
The largest outbreak since 1996 occurred in New York City where 58 people were infected with measles. Many of those infected were not vaccinated because they had chosen religious or philosophical exemptions. Check out the map from the CDC’s report to see the number of measles cases reported in states around the country.
Source: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Measles – United States, January 1 - August 24, 2013. Published Sept. 13, 2013.
Shot or nasal spray? Three strains of influenza or four? Egg-based or egg-protein free? These are some of the choices you may confront when you go for your influenza vaccine this fall. Learn more about the types of influenza vaccines from our updated Q&A sheet, Influenza: What You Should Know. Remember, your healthcare provider may not have all of these versions available; however, regardless of the type of influenza vaccine you get, any version is better than delaying or not getting vaccinated at all.
Since recent measles outbreaks have been occurring thought the U.S. and in some European countries, our Vaccines on the Go: What You Should Know mobile app features some measles information:
Measles is highly contagious. In fact, it is so contagious that if 10 susceptible people are in an elevator with one person who is infected with measles virus, all 10 susceptible people will likely become infected:
Measles typically lasts about six days.
Symptoms of measles infection include fever, pink eye, and a red, pinpoint rash that starts on the face and spreads to the rest of the body.
Sometimes, complications can occur as a result of measles infection:
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the development of the first measles vaccine by John F. Enders, PhD, and colleagues. The strain of measles virus used in the first measles vaccine paved the way for the creation of the more attenuated (weakened) measles virus used in the current vaccine. This more attenuated measles vaccine, developed by Dr. Maurice Hilleman at Merck in 1968, is the only measles vaccine used in the U.S. and is given to children at 12 months of age and again between age 4 and 6 as part of the MMR vaccine.
Have you or someone in your family experienced a vaccine-preventable disease (VPD)? If so, please consider sharing your experience to help others better understand the importance of vaccines.
Read personal stories about people whose lives have been affected by a VPD or share your story with us on the Parents PACK website.
Do you want to know about travel alerts as soon as they are released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)? If so, the CDC offers three convenient ways for you to access travel health alerts:
People with chronic hepatitis infections typically do not experience symptoms of infection, so most affected people do not know they have hepatitis until serious liver damage occurs.
To highlight the importance of getting tested for early detection and treatment of chronic hepatitis infections, May 19 has been designated as National Hepatitis Testing Day in the United States. During this time, healthcare providers and health officials educate patients and at-risk individuals about viral hepatitis and encourage testing among this group.
Hepatitis testing involves a blood test that measures antibody levels for different types of hepatitis. For example, hepatitis C testing is done by looking for hepatitis C antibodies. People who should be tested for hepatitis include baby boomers (people born between 1945 and 1965), injected drug users, healthcare workers, and household contacts of people infected with hepatitis. If you think you should be tested for hepatitis, talk to your doctor or find a hepatitis testing center near you.
April 20-27 is National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW), a week in which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), along with health departments, community leaders, national immunization groups and healthcare professionals from across the United States, remind everyone about the importance of getting infants and children immunized by highlighting the benefits of childhood vaccinations and progress in this effort. Learn more about NIIW»
NIIW is scheduled to coincide with similar efforts in other parts of the world. This larger effort, known as World Immunization Week (WIW), not only promotes the importance of immunization, but also works to increase access to vaccines in countries where it is currently limited. WIW will be held April 24-30. Learn more about WIW»
Learn about Vaccination Week in the Americas, another immunization initiative scheduled to take place during WIW, in this month’s Around the World article»
Clinical studies for vaccines are extensive and the licensing requirements are complex. In fact, when the manufacturer of the rotavirus vaccine, known as RotaTeq®, got all of the licensing paperwork ready to submit to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the amount of paper was so large that if it was stacked in a single pile, its height would have exceeded that of the Sears Tower in Chicago.
Read this month’s Feature Article, “How vaccines are made,” to learn more about vaccine development.
Immunogens are the parts of a vaccine to which the body’s immune system makes an immune response. Because children receive so many vaccines today, parents sometimes wonder whether they are getting too many vaccines. However, children today receive vaccines that contain fewer immunogens than children in the 1900s and the 1980s:
This reduced number of immunogens, despite the higher number of vaccines, is possible because of improvements in technology.
January is “Cervical Cancer Awareness” month. Cervical cancer is one of several types of cancer caused by HPV infection and is one of the most common cancers affecting women. Each year, 12,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and about 4,200 die from the disease. Cervical cancer is most commonly caused by long-lasting infection with HPV types 16 or 18. Because the HPV vaccine protects against these two types of HPV, girls and young women age 9 through 26 years are recommended to get the HPV vaccine.
During January, check with the young women in your life to be sure they are aware of the HPV vaccine as a way to prevent cervical cancer.
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