August 1, 2018
By Karen Wilkinson, RN, NHA, CLNC – CareerSmart® Learning Contributor
National Immunization Awareness Month is observed in August as a way to spotlight the importance of vaccination for people of all ages, and is sponsored by the National Public Health Information Coalition (NPHIC). In the United States, vaccine-preventable diseases are still causing illness, hospital admissions and death. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that pneumococcal pneumonia infects around 900,000 people annually, resulting in 400,000 hospitalizations and 19,000 deaths. And, although there is hesitation on the part of many in the U.S. to obtain the influenza vaccine, flu -related deaths in the U.S. have ranged somewhere between 12,000 and 56,000 since 2010. HPV is also taking a toll. More than 27,000 cases of HPV-related cancer are diagnosed every year, with almost 4,000 annual deaths from cervical cancer. Even shingles is causing pain – literally. Of the one million cases of shingles diagnosed every year, post-herpetic neuralgia is a painful consequence that some continue to suffer.
CDC has identified 17 dangerous or deadly diseases for which scheduled vaccines are recommended: Chickenpox, Diptheria, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Hib, HPV, Measles, Meningococcal, Mumps, Pertussis, Pneumococcal, Polio, Rotavirus, Rubella, Shingles, and Tetanus. If needed because of travel or job situations, vaccinations for Anthrax, Japanese Encephalitis, Rabies, Smallpox, Tuberculosis, Typhoid Fever and Yellow Fever are also available. Vaccines provide artificially acquired immunity, and help prevent diseases from occurring. The incidence of most vaccine-preventable diseases has dramatically dropped since vaccines were introduced in the U.S. According to the National Institute of Health/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease’s most recent 2009 statistics, there were zero cases of diphtheria, smallpox, and polio diagnosed, compared to baseline 20th century pre-vaccine levels of 175,885 cases of diphtheria, 48, 164 cases of smallpox, and 16,316 cases of polio. Despite some recently diagnosed cases of measles and mumps, the numbers still tell the story: 71 cases of measles in 2009, compared to 503, 282 cases pre-vaccine; and, 1,991 cases of mumps in 2009, compared to 152, 209 cases pre-vaccine.
The cleanest and purest living practices will not prevent disease. Many diseases can easily be spread via airborne means, such as chickenpox, diphtheria, measles, mumps, polio, pertussis, pneumococcal, rubella and influenza. In a study conducted at Kaiser Permanente’s Institute for Health Research in Denver, Matthew Daley, a pediatrician and researcher, along with Jason M. Glanz, an epidemiologist, found that unvaccinated children could not be protected from disease based on having enough other vaccinated children around them. They stated, “unvaccinated children were roughly 23 times more likely to develop whooping cough, nine times more likely to be infected with chicken pox, and 6.5 times more likely to be hospitalized with pneumonia or pneumococcal disease than vaccinated children from the same communities.”
Children and adults no longer need to suffer the devastating consequences of diseases that are easily preventable. The statistics should inform our practice.
You may also be interested in:
 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2016). Vaccine-Preventable Adult Diseases. Retrieved July 06, 2018 from https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/adults/vpd.html
 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2016). Vaccines by Disease. Retrieved July 06, 2018 from https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd/vaccines-diseases.html
 National Institute of Health/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease. (2014). Vaccine Benefits. Retrieved July 07, 2018 from https://www.niaid.nih.gov/research/vaccine-benefits
 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017). Vaccine-Preventable Diseases and the Vaccines That Prevent Them. Retrieved July 7, 2018 from https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents/downloads/parent-ver-sch-0-6yrs.pdf
 Daley, M, and Glanz, J. (2011). Straight Talk about Vaccination. Scientific American, September 1, 2011. Retrieved August 7, 2018 from https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/straight-talk-about-vaccination/#
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