During his teens, George Washington fell ill with diphtheria (15 years old), malaria (17 years old) and smallpox (19 years old). Although teens today do not have to typically worry about those vaccine-preventable diseases, they are still susceptible to a variety of infections. The good news is that vaccines available today that were not available in George Washington’s day keep teens healthy.
In 1935, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt announced that the jamboree in Virginia would have to be canceled due to a polio epidemic on the East Coast. Polio also led to the closing of public places like swimming pools, churches and cinemas during the summer, which was known as “polio season.”
Because so many children succumb to measles, many families in Africa do not name their children until the threat of measles has passed. This common practice inspired gifted illustrator Sophie Blackall to create posters for the Measles and Rubella Initiative that document the ongoing efforts to end measles.
Neil Young was infected with polio during the 1951 epidemic in Ontario, Canada. Other famous people who had polio include Alan Alda, Donald Sutherland, Jack Nicklaus, Mia Farrow, and, probably most famously, Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
The hepatitis A vaccine is often considered to be a travel vaccine because it is recommended for people traveling to countries where there is an increased risk of being infected with hepatitis A, such as Central and South America, Africa, and most of Asia. However, the hepatitis A vaccine is routinely recommended for children, and anyone who wants to be protected from hepatitis A can also receive the vaccine. Since hepatitis A spreads by contaminated food (e.g., food not properly washed or cooked) and water, getting a hepatitis A vaccine can protect non-travelers as well.
The UNICEF-Pampers partnership, One Pack = One Vaccine, began in 2006 and provides tetanus vaccine to mothers and babies who live in Asia and Africa. During the eight years that this partnership has been in place, One Pack = One Vaccine has provided 300 million tetanus vaccines to prevent maternal and newborn tetanus in 10 of the world’s poorest countries, including Burkina, Guinea Bissau, Timor Leste, Myanmar, Tanzania, Ghana, Cameroon, Liberia, Senegal and Uganda. As a result, maternal and infant tetanus has been eliminated in these countries.
In 2013, the One Pack = One Vaccine partnership launched the “Every Parent’s Dream” campaign to celebrate this success. As part of this campaign, Pampers donated the cost of one vaccine for every pack of specially-marked Pampers products purchased between October and December 2013. During this same time period, Pampers also donated the cost of one tetanus vaccine for every time the videos about the stories of Sibu, Riaz, Qassim and Buhle were viewed on the Pampers YouTube Channel. Every Parent’s Dream donations were provided to UNICEF to continue the fight against maternal and newborn tetanus.
Marc Anthony previously filmed public safety announcements (PSAs) for the CDC to promote influenza vaccination. Other famous figures who have filmed PSAs to promote influenza vaccination include Elmo and Rosita from Sesame Street. These PSAs as well as other informational videos about influenza can be viewed on www.flu.gov.
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Rotavirus is a common cause of severe diarrhea in infants and young children in the U.S. In fact, before a vaccine was available, rotavirus infected about 3 million children every year in the U.S. Virtually every child had rotavirus by age 5. In this country, where medical care can be accessed quickly, most children did not die from rotavirus. However, in other parts of the world, dehydration caused by rotavirus resulted in about 2,000 children dying every day. Therefore, the vaccine was a critical step toward child survival in many parts of the world.
Teens are at higher risk of meningococcal infections for a couple of reasons.
First, their social nature introduces them to strains of meningococcus to which they may not previously have been exposed. Living in dorms, going to sleep-away camps and sharing saliva through drinks, food and kissing are all ways that teens can be exposed to new strains of the bacteria.
Second, some activities irritate or disrupt the lining of their respiratory tract allowing bacteria that normally reside on these mucosal surfaces to enter the bloodstream and cause infection. Exposure to cigarette smoke and close quarters such as those found in bars and nightclubs, respiratory infections that disrupt the lining of the breathing tubes and lack of sleep and a balanced diet can all set the stage for infection with meningococcus.
While most vaccines are not recommended for pregnant women, the influenza and pertussis vaccines are recommended. The influenza vaccine is recommended for pregnant women because they are at increased risk of suffering complications if infected with influenza during their pregnancy. Pregnant women are also recommended to receive a dose of Tdap between 27 and 36 weeks’ gestation for two reasons:
Olivia Dahl, daughter of Roald Dahl, the famous author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, died from encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) caused by measles at age 7, before a vaccine was available. Upon Olivia’s death, Roald Dahl became a vaccine advocate, and later wrote a piece called “Measles: A dangerous illness,” in response to parents who refused to have their children vaccinated with the measles vaccine.
In 1898, Lewis Carroll, author of Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, died from influenza. Carroll loved entertaining young children with stories of fantasy worlds. One such child was Alice Liddell, the daughter of Henry George Liddell. During an afternoon picnic, Carroll told Alice and her sisters a tale about a world named Wonderland. At Alice’s request, Lewis Carroll wrote down the story, which later became Alice in Wonderland. Due to the success and popularity of Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll wrote Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, the sequel to Alice in Wonderland.
The following vaccines are live, “weakened” viral vaccines:
You can read more about the types of vaccines and how they’re made by checking out the related section in our Vaccines on the Go: What You Should Know mobile app.
Siena College and the University of Hartford basketball teams played five games each without spectators during the 1988-89 basketball season due to a measles outbreak. Interestingly, both teams played better in the absence of fans, scoring more points and attaining higher free-throw percentages.
Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, is the well-known vaccine advocate who said these things. Together with his wife, Melinda, Gates is a co-founder of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, an organization dedicated to improving quality of life for all people. Besides vaccines, other initiatives of the Foundation include family planning, agricultural development, education and hygiene and sanitation.
Written proof of yellow fever vaccination is required for entry into many countries, including several in South America and Africa. The vaccine may also be required if you are traveling to or from an area with a risk of yellow fever transmission.
Yellow fever is caused by a virus, and infection typically occurs after being bitten by an infected mosquito. Each year, about 200,000 people are infected and about 30,000 die. The best way to avoid being infected during travel is to receive the yellow fever vaccine.
Vaccines are currently only available to prevent hepatitis A and hepatitis B. Vaccines are not yet available for preventing hepatitis C or E; however, research into developing vaccines for these types of hepatitis is underway. A hepatitis D vaccine is not available; however, because hepatitis D virus requires hepatitis B virus to replicate and cause disease, people who are not already infected with hepatitis B can prevent hepatitis D by receiving the hepatitis B vaccine.
The first childhood vaccination program was started in 1977 during Jimmy Carter’s presidency at the urging of his wife, Rosalyn, and Betty Bumpers, the wife of Arkansas’ then-governor, Dale Bumpers. The nationwide vaccination program was based on Arkansas’ already-successful program, initiated by Senator Bumpers. Together, Mrs. Carter and Mrs. Bumpers also advocated for school-entry vaccination requirements, still in place today. In 1991, the two women started Every Child By Two with the goal of promoting parental awareness about the importance of getting children fully vaccinated by 2 years of age.
Before the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) licenses a vaccine, scientists and regulatory personnel within the FDA first determine whether the vaccine is safe and effective by evaluating data from clinical trials. If the FDA believes that more evidence is needed to prove a vaccine is safe and effective, they may ask for additional studies to be completed.
Newborns in the United States typically receive one dose of hepatitis B vaccine before leaving the hospital nursery. Babies can become infected with hepatitis B when passing through the birth canal of an infected mother. They can also become infected through contact with an infected person’s blood. For these reasons, and because children have a higher risk of developing long-term hepatitis B infections, one dose of the hepatitis B vaccine is routinely recommended for newborns at birth. Additional doses are typically given once between 1 and 2 months of age, and once again between 6 and 18 months of age.
The HPV vaccine was originally recommended only for girls, but studies have now shown it to be safe and effective in boys as well. Since HPV causes more than 12,000 cases of cancer in men and more than 21,000 cases of cancer in women each year, it is recommended for both boys and girls. Although some may think HPV only causes cervical cancer in women, it can also cause other cancers of the reproductive tract in women. Anal cancer, as well as cancers of the head and neck, can occur in both men and women; penile cancer can occur in men.
Jennifer Garner, Kristi Yamaguchi and Joy Behar were all spokeswomen for Faces of Influenza®, a campaign created by the American Lung Association to show that influenza is not a “faceless” disease and to encourage everyone, 6 months of age and older, to get the influenza vaccine every year.
Two of the most common side effects caused by vaccines are fever and tenderness at the injection site.
To learn more about why these two side effects might occur, read our article about “Side effects and the body’s reaction to vaccines” in the Vaccine Safety section of the Parents PACK website.
Hepatitis A is one of the most common vaccine-preventable diseases acquired during travel. For this reason, getting the hepatitis A vaccine is often recommended before traveling to areas with high rates of hepatitis A (i.e. Mexico, Central America, Africa and Asia).
Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) became ill with polio in 1921 at age 39. When in the public eye, FDR concealed his illness; few saw him in a wheelchair in public. Although polio paralyzed him from the waist down, he did not let polio paralyze his drive for success. FDR became the 32nd president of the United States in 1933.
Besides developing his “New Deal” programs, FDR had an immense impact on the resources committed to fighting polio. His support and public persona led to the creation of the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, an organization dedicated to furthering the scientific understanding of polio and how to prevent it. The spectacular success of its fundraising campaign, known as the March of Dimes, led to the name by which the foundation is known today.
Immunity from breast milk and that from vaccination are different because of the source of the antibodies protecting the baby. Specifically, the antibodies that develop after vaccination are made by the baby’s own immune system and provide immunologic memory, protecting the baby for years after immunization; this is known as active immunity. Conversely, antibodies in breast milk are of maternal origin and provide only short-term protection; this type of protection is known as passive immunity.
Travelers have been reminded to be immunized against measles because of large outbreaks in several European countries.
Measles spreads easily to people who are not immune; in fact, about 9 out of every 10 people who are susceptible will get the virus if they come into contact with someone who has measles.
Even if you don’t plan to travel abroad, you should still consult your doctor to make sure your immunizations are up to date.
Together, pneumonia and severe diarrhea claim the lives of more than 2.7 million children less than 5 years of age each year, making them the world’s biggest childhood killers. The most common cause of severe pneumonia among children worldwide is pneumococcus, a type of bacteria. The most common cause of severe diarrhea among children worldwide is rotavirus, a virus that infects the lining of the intestines. Fortunately, vaccines have been developed to protect children from both of these diseases.
Public health organizations around the globe are now working to get these vaccines to the most vulnerable populations:
Learn more about these vaccines and the diseases they prevent:
Commonly referred to as whooping cough, pertussis has also been called the “100-day cough” because of the severe, prolonged coughing it causes.
Pertussis occurs in three phases. While the first phase includes cold-like symptoms including some coughing, both the second and third stages are characterized by severe coughing spells. During the second stage, children with pertussis can experience up to 15 coughing episodes per day; the episodes can be so severe that they cause vomiting and exhaustion. This stage can last up to eight weeks. The third stage is characterized by a decrease in the number and severity of coughing episodes, but can last for several months.
President Garfield’s first-born daughter, Eliza, died from diphtheria in 1863, and his youngest son, Edward, died from pertussis in 1876. This was not uncommon in the era before vaccines against these diseases were available.
The DTaP and Tdap vaccines protect against both of these diseases. Learn more about these vaccines and the diseases they prevent»
For more information about politics and medicine during Garfield’s presidency, consider reading Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President by Candice Millard, available at Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble booksellers.
The DTaP vaccine is given to babies and young children whereas the Tdap vaccine is given to teenagers and adults. Compared to the DTaP vaccine, the Tdap vaccine contains lesser quantity of diptheria protein (hence the lowercase “d”) and lesser quantities of pertussis proteins (hence the lowercase “p”). The lesser quantities of diphtheria and pertussis proteins are sufficient to boost immunity, but low enough to prevent high rates of side effects that occurred when adults and teens received the DTaP version.
The yellow fever vaccine prevents yellow fever, and the Japanese encephalitis virus vaccine prevents Japanese encephalitis virus. Both yellow fever and the Japanese encephalitis virus are transmitted by the bite of infected mosquitoes. Both vaccines are recommended for travelers to countries with a higher risk of transmission of these diseases.
In addition to the HPV vaccine, the hepatitis B vaccine also prevents cancer. The hepatitis B vaccine prevents liver cancer caused by infection with hepatitis B; it was the first cancer-prevention vaccine available.
In addition to humans, influenza also infects:
The Tdap vaccine protects against three bacterial infections: tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis, also known as whooping cough. The severe coughing spasms and thick, sticky mucus caused by pertussis can be fatal in infants as they labor to breathe against a narrowed windpipe.
Unlike most other infections that are transmitted from children to adults, pertussis tends to be passed from older children and adults to infants; therefore, the Tdap vaccine is an important tool in stemming transmission to the youngest members of our families and communities.
Learn more about:
Problems with an early version of the inactivated polio vaccine (shot) led to the Cutter Incident. To read an in-depth description of what happened, check out the book The Cutter Incident: How America’s First Polio Vaccine Led to the Growing Vaccine Crisis, written by Paul Offit, MD, and published by Yale University Press in 2005.
Pertussis or whooping cough is sometimes referred to as the “100-day cough” because people with pertussis can cough for months after having the initial infection.
Mark Twain nearly died from a measles infection after intentionally exposing himself to the disease when his friend Will Bowen was infected.
The vaccine for polio is available in two formulations: The polio shot, currently used in the US, contains killed polio viruses. The oral version contains live, weakened polio viruses, and although it is no longer used in the US, this version is still used in many other countries throughout the world.
A vaccine was available to protect against Lyme disease between 1998 and 2002 but was removed from the market due to low interest in use and unfounded safety concerns. Each year, about 20,000 people get Lyme disease in the U.S. while the technology sits unused.
Tetanus is not affected by herd immunity. Because tetanus is not passed from one person to another, it does not matter how many people around you are immunized. Your risk of disease remains the same.
Before the varicella (chickenpox) vaccine became available, parents wanted their children to catch chickenpox when others in the house or neighborhood had it. Unfortunately, some parents still try to have their children intentionally exposed in order to avoid getting a vaccine. Since some children suffer complications and die from the disease, this is not the safest choice. Learn more about varicella and the vaccine»
The three countries that have not successfully eradicated polio yet include Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan.
Although children in the 1940s only received vaccines to prevent four diseases, they got about 3,200 antigens whereas today’s children receive vaccines to prevent 14 diseases but only get about 156 antigens. Scientific understanding of immunology and technological advances in the laboratory have allowed scientists and manufacturers to make vaccines that are more purified and contain fewer antigens while still affording immune protection.
Pertussis is spread more commonly from adults to children.
The rubella vaccine is given to girls to protect their future unborn babies. Clinically, rubella takes two forms—rubella and congenital rubella syndrome (CRS). While rubella is acquired when someone comes into contact with the saliva of an infected person, such as through coughs or sneezes, CRS occurs when a pregnant woman is infected with rubella. About 85 of 100 babies of women infected during the first trimester of pregnancy will be born with abnormalities such as deafness; cataracts or other eye damage; heart defects; mental retardation; damage to liver, spleen, or skeleton; diabetes; and autism.
Boys are immunized to protect their future partners and to help decrease transmission of disease in the community.
The disease also known as German measles is rubella.
Development of the pneumococcal vaccine slowed after the invention of antibiotics which could treat pneumococcal infections. However, as doctors realized that some pneumococcal infections were no longer responding to antibiotics, development of a vaccine again became a priority.
The vaccine that may be changed as often as every year is the influenza vaccine. These updates are necessary because as the virus replicates, it changes itself. These changes are significant enough that a protective vaccine one year may not work the next year.
Whooping cough is the common name for pertussis; it comes from the sound that children make when they try to breathe air in against their narrowed windpipe. The windpipe is clogged by thick, sticky mucus resulting from toxins made by the bacteria.
Smallpox has been eradicated from the world through widespread vaccine use. The disease was both dreaded and deadly in its day; in fact, 3 of every 10 people who got smallpox died.
Edward Jenner was the first to realize that because of their exposure to cowpox, milkmaids were immune when smallpox outbreaks occurred. He began arm-to-arm inoculations by taking pus from the scab of a person and transferring it to another. By the 1940s, technology allowed for large-scale growth of cowpox and subsequent immunization of entire populations.
The last case of natural smallpox occurred in Somalia in 1977. Smallpox virus now only exists in two laboratories in the world and is heavily guarded as it is considered a possible agent of bioterrorism.
Proof of having received the yellow fever vaccine is required for entry into certain countries.
The influenza vaccine is available as a shot and a nasal spray, but not by mouth.
While pregnant women are advised to wait until after giving birth to get most vaccines, the influenza and pertussis vaccines are specifically recommended during pregnancy. The reasons for using each of these vaccines differ:
Because women are at an increased risk of suffering complications and hospitalization if they become ill with influenza while pregnant, women are recommended to get the influenza shot if they will be pregnant during influenza season.
Pregnant women are at increased risk because they:
Pertussis can be particularly deadly for young infants because of their narrow windpipes and the severe coughing spells which cause them to struggle to breathe. Because young infants cannot be immunized against pertussis until 2 months of age, pregnant women are recommended to receive a dose of Tdap between 27 and 36 weeks’ gestation during each pregnancy to help protect the babies. For women who are past this point in their pregnancy, they should ask for the Tdap vaccine before being discharged from the hospital.
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