Vaccines have come a long way since the first vaccine was developed. In 1796, Edward Jenner successfully used cowpox material to create immunity to smallpox. It took almost 100 years to develop the next vaccine, when Louis Pasteur developed the rabies vaccine in 1885.
Fast forward to the 1930’s, when many vaccines were developed that we routinely give today such as:
The middle of the 20th Century was a productive time for vaccine discovery and innovation, including the development of vaccines for several childhood diseases including
Because of these discoveries, many of these serious diseases are almost completely eradicated world-wide.
Why Are Immunizations Important?
If we stop immunizing against these diseases, it doesn’t take long before they can progress to epidemic levels. In fact, an example of this can be seen from the pertussis (whooping cough) epidemic in Japan in the 1970’s: where about 80% of Japanese children were vaccinated against pertussis, so people thought that it wasn’t necessary to vaccinate against this disease and soon immunization rates dropped to about 10%.
Within 5 years, a major pertussis epidemic occurred, with more than 13,000 cases reported and 41 deaths.
What Does it Mean To Be Vaccinated?
When you get vaccinated, it not only protects you from these diseases, but it also protects your community by creating a “community immunity” or “herd immunity.” In other words, this is when enough people are vaccinated, that even if there is an outbreak, it’s harder for the disease to travel from person to person.
What If You're Not Vaccinated?
Even people who can’t get vaccinated (very young children, those with diminished immune systems from HIV/AIDS, cancer, etc.) will have some protection.
For instance, grandparents need to make sure their pertussis vaccination is up to date when meeting a brand new grand baby. Newborns can’t get the first vaccination until 2 months of age, and it’s a highly contagious and deadly disease in young babies. This “herd immunity” protects the baby until it can receive the vaccination.
How Effective Are Vaccinations?
According to the CDC, just over 50% of adolescents have received the full course of the vaccine series for the Human Papillomavirus (HPV). Every year there is an estimated 34,000 cases of cancer as a result of HPV. 80% of people will get an HPV infection in their lifetime. The vaccine can prevent the most dangerous type of cervical cancer, but it also helps prevent other cancers in males.
Where Can You Get Vaccinated?
Getting vaccinated is easy! Talk to your primary care provider, or you can also come into one of our CHI Health Pharmacies to speak to a pharmacist about what vaccinations you need.
Most are covered on insurance, and many are available in the pharmacy without an appointment. It’s not only important for your health, but for the health of your family and your community!
“The History of Vaccines” An Educational Resource by the College of Physicians of Philadelphia www.history of vaccines.org/timeline, Accessed Feb 27, 2020
“Vaccines and Preventable Diseases” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Nov. 22, 2016, www.cdc.gov/vaccines, Accessed Feb 27, 2020