Success Against Diseases: The History of Vaccination

We are fortunate that diseases like polio, mumps, and diphtheria are now words most young people only know from history lessons — not from first-hand experience with the diseases that were an ever-present danger decades ago. Thanks to the heroic vaccination efforts of physicians, many diseases have been eradicated or are much less prevalent today.

Vaccinations play a significant role in pediatric success. To explain the history and impact on society as a whole, OPs Medical Director Dr. Dan Feiten, and OPs Clinical Director Dr. Rich Szabo joined our podcast to discuss “Success Against Diseases: The History of Vaccination”.

Here are some of the more salient points they shared about vaccines and the impact these life-saving remedies have had on the health and wellness of our pediatric population.  

Eradicating Disease through Vaccines

A myriad of diseases has been virtually eradicated globally thanks to the development of vaccines. Two examples of highly effective vaccine campaigns are polio and Haemophilus Influenzae.

Polio: Polio outbreaks were frequent and destructive throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries. Like COVID-19, many cases were asymptomatic, but even asymptomatic carriers could easily transmit infections to others through human contact.

Outbreaks were common in the summer months, with one outbreak in New York City in 1916 killing over 2,000 people. Even if people survived, they were not unscathed. Many experienced deformed limbs years after their recovery. The iron lung was invented to treat polio patients, and for many, it was the only source of hope for their respiratory recovery.  

The invention of the polio vaccine in the early 1950s by Jonas Salk and the subsequent oral polio vaccine by Albert Sabin were critical in significantly reducing the number of people contracting and dying from polio.

In 1952, there were 58,000 cases of polio reported during one of the nation’s worst outbreaks. In 1958, after the vaccination campaign, only 5,600 cases were reported. By 1961, there were only 161 reported cases. Currently, there are only a small handful of areas around the world where the polio virus is still found.   

Haemophilus influenzae: Haemophilus influenzae, also called H Flu or Hib, is a type of influenza infection that can be devastating when contracted by children between the ages of 3 months and 5 years. Before the vaccine was discovered, contracting Hib at a young age could often send a child to the hospital with pneumonia, bloodstream infections, and meningitis. 

The Hib vaccine was developed in the 1980s, with the most effective version licensed for use beginning in 1987. The vaccine campaign was so effective that in California alone, cases of Hib disease were 99% diminished. Due to the success of this campaign, many doctors today have never seen a case of Hib in their pediatric practice.

What Happens if We Stop Our Vaccination Efforts?

Vaccine campaigns are critical to pediatric success throughout the world. The more we can protect our children from diseases that have known vaccines, the easier it will be to ensure their normal growth and development. This leads to healthier children who miss less school and can participate more fully in social and family life.

Because we’ve done such a great job at vaccinating our children, many people forget what it was like before these vaccines existed. We must keep our guard up. Nature is powerful, and if we don’t respect it, we will continue to be vulnerable to ongoing viruses and pathogens that are simply a part of our world.

Learn More about Vaccines!

Want to hear the discussion with Dr. Feiten and Dr. Szabo in full? Check out the “Success Against Diseases: The History of Vaccination” podcast now.

A pediatric-focused EHR is vital for your practice’s efficiency and workflow. Having the right digital tools to support that, including a vaccine management system designed specifically designed to keep your patients up-to-date on their vaccine schedule, is crucial for pediatric success. Schedule some time for a free consultation with one of our specialists to learn about all the valuable timesaving features OP offers to support the needs of pediatric practices and their patients.v

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