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Vaccine-preventable diseases in the U.S. - statistics & facts

Vaccine-preventable diseases are those for which an effective vaccine exists. Vaccines, used worldwide as a preventative healthcare measure, provide protection against a range of common and/or serious diseases. Since the 1980s, the use of vaccines has reduced the incidence of these diseases (in the case of smallpox leading to disease eradication), and in turn has prevented approximately 2.5 million deaths a year. Importantly, it has also reduced the rate of child mortality. The global health community, with the backing of the World Health Organization, is committed to working towards a world in which all individuals and communities enjoy lives free from vaccine-preventable diseases.

Recommended vaccinations

The World Health Organization has a list of recommended vaccinations, and it is up to national immunization managers and key decision-makers, chairs and members of national advisory committees on immunization to determine the policy for each country. This is determined based on where each disease is common, the level of health care access, the cost of vaccines, and issues with vaccine availability, transport and storage for the given region. The number and timing of doses, cost of vaccination and whether immunization is mandatory or recommended differs between countries around the world. In some countries, vaccination is also a requirement for admission to schools. In the United States, the immunization schedule has been recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, and approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

U.S. vaccination schedule

The number of diseases on immunization schedules around the world has grown rapidly since the mid-1980s, as new vaccinations have been developed. Currently on the schedule in the United States are vaccinations against chickenpox, diphtheria, Haemophilus influenzae type b, hepatitis A and B, influenza, measles, mumps, pertussis, polio, pneumococcal, rotavirus, rubella, and tetanus. The World Health Organization tracks the vaccination coverage and prevalence of vaccine-preventable diseases worldwide, and although immunization refusals have recently increased slightly in some regions, overall vaccine coverage remains high.


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