Diseases That Can be Prevented by Vaccination

There are numerous lethal diseases that are now preventable by getting vaccines.

Many diseases can be prevented by timely inoculation; however, for a disease not to spread, 90% of a population must be vaccinated. This is known as ‘herd immunity’: diseases do not spread so easily since there aren’t many people who can be infected. Nevertheless, there are a growing number of people who delay and refuse vaccinations in recent years, resulting in the worst cases of epidemics of vaccine-preventable infectious diseases.

The Centers for Disease Control reported that the United States experienced a record number of measles cases in 2014, with 667 cases from 27 states – the greatest number of cases since measles elimination was documented in 2000. The CDC asserts that a majority of those who got measles were unvaccinated. In addition, the U.S. experienced the worst whooping cough epidemic in 70 years in 2012. In Washington alone, 2,520 cases of whooping cough were reported – a whopping 1300% increase from the previous year.

Reasons Parents Choose Not to Inoculate Their Kids

A study published by Public Health Reports in 2011 found that among parents who delayed and refused vaccinations for their kids:

  • 63 percent said they fear their children could have serious side effects
  • 48.6 percent believe that too many vaccines can overwhelm a child’s immune system
  • 58.6 percent said children receive too many vaccines.

Moreover, there are those who believe that vaccines could trigger autism despite overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary.

Unfortunately, these misconceptions mean that numerous children, adolescents and adults are walking around un- or under-immunized, with no protection against a wide range of preventable infectious diseases, leaving the potential for outbreaks.

Vaccine-Preventable Diseases

The World Health Organization lists the following disease for which vaccines are available:

  • Chickenpox (Varicella)
  • Cholera
  • Dengue
  • Diptheria
  • Haemophilus influenzae type b
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Hepatitis E
  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV, genital or venereal warts)
  • Influenza
  • Japanese encephalitis
  • Malaria
  • Measles (Rubeola)
  • Meningococcal meningitis
  • Mumps
  • Pertussis (Whooping cough)
  • Pneumococcal Disease
  • Poliomyelitis
  • Rabies
  • Rotavirus
  • Rubella
  • Tetanus
  • Tick-borne encephalitis
  • Tuberculosis
  • Typhoid
  • Yellow Fever

Each of these diseases carries its own set of risks. Some can be more serious at certain ages, such as whooping cough which is most perilous in infants. There are rare diseases, like tetanus, that can be very serious for most people who get them. There are diseases that are highly contagious, such as measles; however, not everyone who contracts them will be extremely ill. However, predicting who will get critically ill and who won’t is an impossible task.

Additional Reasons for Failure to Obtain Vaccines

  • Financial constraints or lack of access to vaccines, especially in underdeveloped countries
  • Medical reasons (e.g. allergies, damaged immune system)
  • Diseases that are uncommon to a particular country (e.g. U.S. residents do not routinely receive vaccines against Malaria, which leaves them at risk of infection when traveling to areas where there is a high risk of the disease)