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NHM Health Focus:
Immunization Awareness

August 2009

      National Immunization Awareness Month       

Childhood Immunizations
 – Childhood Immunization (MedlinePlus NLM)
 – Recommended Childhood and Adolescent Immunization Schedule (CDC)
 – Immunization Schedule (CDC)
 – Your Child's Immunizations (Nemours Foundation)
 – Frequently Asked Questions about Immunizatons (Nemours Foundation)

Adult Immunizations
 – Adult Immunization Schedule (CDC)
 – Immunization Fact Sheets (NFID)
 – Preventing the Flu (CDC)

About Vaccines and Immunization
 – Immunization (MedlinePlus NLM)
 – What is a Vaccine? (NIAID Vaccine Research Ctr.)
 – Vaccine Education (CHOP)
 – Vaccine Research Center (NIAID)
 – Vaccine and Preventable Diseases (CDC)
 – How Vaccines Prevent Disease (CDC)
 – Clinical Trials (NIH)

History of Vaccination
 – Immunization against Diseases of Public Health Importance (WHO)
 – History of Medicine 1700-1900: vaccination (SchoolScience.co.uk)
 – Smallpox: The Triumph over the Most Terrible of the Ministers of Death (Annals of Internal Medicine)

National Immunization Awareness Month highlights the value of immunizations to individuals and to their communities. Each year vaccines protect millions of adults and children from diseases that often cause discomfort, pain, and, depending on the disease, disability or death.

The World Health Organization (WHO) identifies vaccination as one of the most successful and cost-effective public health interventions. "Well over 2 million deaths are currently averted through immunization each year." (WHO)

More than 200 years ago Edward Jenner vaccinated a young boy for small pox. Other vaccines followed: rabies (1885), bubonic plague (1897), diphtheria (1923), tetanus (1927), polio (1955 and 1962) and more. Current recommended childhood immunization schedules published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention list more than a dozen diseases for which vaccination is recommended.

This has not been a hasty process. To take smallpox as one historical example, smallpox vaccination became compulsory in the United Kingdom in 1853. More than 100 years later, in 1967, the World Health Organization (WHO) launched a worldwide vaccination program. Twelve years later, in 1979, smallpox was eradicated.

"In spite of the well-documented benefits of vaccines, they tend to be undervalued by the American public. The reality is that the vast majority of our citizens have not directly experienced the diseases that vaccines are designed to prevent." Dr. Mike Magee, Health Politics

Before vaccines, parents in the United States could expect that every year the following would happen:

  • Polio would paralyze 10,000 children.
  • Rubella (German measles) would cause birth defects and mental retardation in as many as 20,000 newborns.
  • Measles would infect about 4,000,000 children, killing 3,000.
  • Diphtheria would be one of the most common causes of death in school-aged children.
  • A bacterium called Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) would cause meningitis in 15,000 children, leaving many with permanent brain damage.
  • Pertussis (whooping cough) would kill thousands of infants.
    (Children's Hospital of Philadelphia)

Your Child's Immunizations, in the parent section of the KidsHealth website, provides more information including: a brief description of each disease, an immunization schedule, reasons to receive the vaccine, possible risks and reasons to delay the immunization, care of child after the vaccination, and when to call the doctor.

Immunization information for adults is posted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Access Excellence @ the National Health Museum has these resources related to immunity and immunization:

Activities Exchange: Classic Collection - Vaccines: How and Why
Activities Exchange: Classic Collection - Development of Polio Vaccines
Activities Exchange: Fellows Collection - Virus Unit
Activities Exchange: Mystery Spot - Tell Me More About Smallpox
Health Headquarters: Question of the Week - Vaccinations
Health Headquarters: Question of the Week - Dieting and the Flu
Health Headquarters: Question of the Week - Germs
Health Headquarters: Question of the Week - Small Pox
Health Headquarters: Health Focus - National Public Health Week
Resource Center: About Biotech - Vaccinating Against Cancer
Resource Center: About Biotech - Monoclonal Antibody Technology - The Basics
What's News: Science Updates: - Flu Vax Goes to the Source
What's News: Science Updates: - Ebola Vaccine Candidate


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