Vaccine-Preventable Diseases

Several serious and often deadly diseases once ran rampart throughout the world, but have been nearly eliminated within the United States and several other countries due to vaccines.

Vaccines are an incredibly important part of staying healthy as they prevent these diseases from spreading and thus can prevent an occurrence of a deadly outbreak. Therefore, it is important to be aware of vaccine-preventable diseases as well as when and how often you should be vaccinated. Not only will this help you to keep yourself and loved ones safe and healthy, but it can protect your community. There are individuals who are not able to become vaccinated themselves and therefore rely heavily on not being exposed to disease. To learn more about the many vaccine-preventable diseases such as chickenpox, cholera, meningococcal, measles, mumps, rubella, pneumococcal and polio, review the information that has been provided within the sections below.

What are preventive vaccines and how do they work?

Vaccines play a crucial role in keeping our bodies healthy and protecting us from serious diseases, but what is a vaccine? A vaccine is created from small amounts of dead or weakened germs that cause a particular disease such as polio, chickenpox, mumps and measles. By introducing these dead and weakened germs to your immune system, your body can become better prepared to fight the disease and can even provide you with an immunization to a disease. While not every vaccine provides a complete immunization, they can ensure that your body is highly unlikely to develop a disease throughout your lifetime. A vaccination is the process of receiving a vaccine, usually through a shot. Vaccinations are only available to individuals with healthy immune systems and there are rare cases where an individual cannot become vaccinated. This makes it far more imperative that everyone else obtains their vaccinations in order to prevent exposure to a disease.

Chickenpox (Varicella)

While chickenpox was once fairly common within the United States, the number of chickenpox cases within the U.S has dropped substantially over the years due to the development of a chickenpox (varicella) vaccine. Just two doses of the chickenpox vaccine are recommended to both children and adults, providing a 94 percent effectiveness with far milder version of the disease to those who are still afflicted.

Chickenpox is incredibly contagious and while most forms of chickenpox are mild, it can lead to far more serious complications such as pneumonia, which is a serious lung infection. Additionally, infants, pregnant women and those with weakened immune systems carry a far greater risk for complications. This virus can also lead to shingles later in life, which can affect the nervous system and cause painful skin rashes.

Meningococcal

While Meningococcal disease is rare in the United States, there are still cases each year. Certain individuals are at a greater risk for this disease including teens, young adults and individuals who have weakened immune systems or certain health conditions. Causing serious infections within the brain, spinal cord and blood — meningococcal is a serious disease that can become deadly within just a few short hours. There are two types of meningococcal vaccines: MenACWY vaccine and MenB vaccine. Vaccinations are administered depending on age, health conditions and areas that have outbreak risk factors.

Measles, Mumps and Rubella

Before vaccinations, measles mumps and rubella were all very common within the United States. Affecting primarily children and the elderly, these diseases are still common in many parts of the world. Since these diseases are common elsewhere, it is even more imperative that you ensure that you and your loved ones receive MMR vaccinations if eligible to do so. The MMR vaccination is typically administered twice in early childhood, but adults that have not yet received a vaccination are still eligible to receive it so long as there is no current pregnancy, weakened immune system, family history of immune system problems, had recently had a blood transfusion or has certain illnesses.

If you do not receive the vaccine, the measles virus can lead to rashes that cover the entire body, ear infections, pneumonia, diarrhea and rarely, brain damage or death. The mumps virus can originally present itself as the common cold, causing fever, chills, headaches, tiredness and muscle aches. As the disease progresses, it can lead to deafness, swelling of the brain or spinal cord, painful swelling of testicles or ovaries and in some cases, death. Rubella, also referred to as German measles can present itself as a sore throat, rash, headache, eye irritation and fever. It can also cause arthritis in teenagers and adult women. Pregnant women are at a more serious risk as rubella can lead to miscarriages and serious birth defects.

Pneumococcal

Pneumococcal disease is incredibly contagious and can lead to varying health issues including serious infections within the lining of the brain, spinal cord and lungs as well as blood infections. While the disease can be fatal, it is most dangerous to senior citizens, babies and individuals who possess certain health conditions. Fortunately, pneumococcal is completely preventable by obtaining either a PCV13 vaccine or PPSV23 vaccination, depending on your age and health conditions. This vaccination must only be acquired once within your lifetime and has caused the disease to become far rarer within the United States.

Polio

Once very common within the United States, there has not been a new case of Polio within the United States in over 35 years thanks to the polio vaccination. A severe and contagious disease, polio can lead to serious medical conditions, including permanent disabilities and death. Even though polio has become so rare within the United States, it is important to still vaccinate for the disease as polio is still found in a few countries such as Africa and Asia. If a person that was never vaccinated was to travel outside of the United States, that person could than contract the disease and spread it to other non-vaccinated individuals within the United States upon their return. As part of routine vaccine schedules, children receive four doses of the polio vaccine in order to build immunity, though adults can also obtain this vaccination. Generally, the polio vaccination is administered at two months, four months, six through 18 months and four through six years.

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