Here's the rundown on some diseases.
Vaccination is the only sure way to build community immunity against the most common diseases. Some diseases vaccines help to prevent include: diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), poliomyelitis (polio), measles, mumps, rubella haemophilus influenzae type b infections, hepatitis B, influenza, pneumococcal infections
Measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by a virus that is easily spread to others by coughing and sneezing.
“About 1 out of 5 children who get measles will be hospitalized.”
- High fever (usually over 101 degrees)
- Rash (usually starts on the face along the hairline then spreads down)
- Runny nose
- Red, watery eyes.
- Sometimes it can cause diarrhea and ear infection.
“Nearly everyone in the U.S. got measles before there was a vaccine, and hundreds died from it each year. Today, many doctors in the US have never seen a case of measles. However, the number of cases reported has been rising in the last decade, from 63 cases in 2010 up to 1,109 cases in mid-2019.” This is the greatest number of cases reported in the U.S. since 1992 and since measles was declared eliminated in 2000.
What are the serious risks associated with measles?
Measles can be dangerous, especially for babies and young children. For some children, measles can lead to:
- Pneumonia (a serious lung infection)
- Lifelong brain damage
When should I get vaccinated?
The measles shot is a combination vaccine known as the MMR vaccine. A single shot, it promotes immunity for three serious diseases: measles, mumps, and rubella. Another combination vaccine, called the MMRV vaccine is also available and protects against measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella (chickenpox). The MMR or MMRV shot is recommended for:
- Infants 6 through 11 months old should have one dose of MMR vaccine before traveling abroad.
- All infants should have their first MMR by 15 months.
- A second booster dose between ages 4 and 6 years completes the MMR immunization series.
For more information about the measles, click here.
HPV (Human Papillomavirus) is a very common virus that can lead to cancer[s1] . About 1 in four people are currently infected with HPV in the United States.. Before the vaccine was available, about 14 million people, including teens, became infected with HPV each year.
“Over 30,000 people in the United States each year are affected by cancer caused by HPV infection.”
What are possible side effects of getting the HPV vaccine?
Like any vaccine or medicine, HPV vaccination can cause side effects. The most common side effects are mild and include:
- Pain, redness, or swelling in the arm where the shot was given
- Dizziness or fainting (fainting after any vaccine, including HPV vaccine, is more common among adolescents)
That said, the benefits of HPV vaccination [s2] far outweigh any potential risk of side effects.
“Among vaccinated women, the percentage of cervical precancers caused by the HPV types most often linked to cervical cancer has dropped by 40 percent.”
What are the serious risks associated with HPV?
In general, HPV is thought to be responsible for more than 90% of anal and cervical cancers, about 70% of vaginal and vulvar cancers, and 60% of penile cancers. Cancers in the back of the throat traditionally have been caused by tobacco and alcohol, but recent studies show that about 60% to 70% of those cancers may be linked to HPV.
For more information about HPV and cancer, click here.
When should I get vaccinated?
The CDC recommends 11 to 12-year-olds receive two doses of HPV vaccine at least six months apart to protect against cancers caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) infections. Those 15 years and older starting the vaccine series will need three doses, as will people 9-26 years old who have weakened immune systems.
- The first dose is routinely recommended at 11-12 years old.
- The second dose of the vaccine should be administered 6 to 12 months after the first dose.
- Catch up vaccination is recommended for people through age 26 years who have not previously been vaccinated.
- The vaccine is approved up through age 45, and can be received if appropriate after shared decision making with a health care provider.
- HPV vaccine is not recommended for pregnant women. Women who are breastfeeding may be vaccinated.
- If you are moderately or severely ill, you should probably wait until you recover to get the vaccine. Your doctor can advise you.
- Anyone who has had a severe (life-threatening) allergic reaction to a dose or any component of HPV vaccine should not get another dose. Tell your doctor if you have any severe allergies that you know of, including a severe allergy to yeast.
For more information about the HPV vaccine, click here.
Meningococcal Disease (Meningitis)
Meningococcal disease is an infection caused by bacteria, Neisseria meningitidis, also known as meningococcus. These infections are often severe and can be deadly. They include meningitis (infections in the lining of the brain and spinal cord) and sepsis (infection in the blood).
“Even with antibiotic treatment, 1 out of 10 people infected with meningococcal disease will die.”
Meningococcal disease can first appear as a flu-like illness but rapidly worsens. Symptoms include fever, stiff neck, headache, nausea and vomiting, sensitivity to light, and altered mental status or confusion. The two most common types of meningococcal infections are meningitis and sepsis. Both of these types of infections are very serious and can be life-threatening in a matter of hours.
For more information about the signs of symptoms of common meningococcal infections, click here.
“CDC recommends vaccination with a meningococcal conjugate vaccine for all preteens and teens at 11 to 12 years old, with a booster dose at 16 years old. Teens and young adults (16 through 23-year-olds) also may be vaccinated with a serogroup B meningococcal vaccine.”
What are the serious risks associated with meningococcal disease?
- Loss of limbs
- Nervous system problems
- Brain damage
People with meningococcal disease need to be treated with antibiotics as soon as possible, but even with antibiotic treatment, 10 to 15 in 100 people infected with meningococcal disease will die. Up to 1 in 5 survivors will have long-term disabilities, such as loss of limb(s), deafness, nervous system problems, or brain damage.
Depending on how serious the infection is, people with meningococcal disease may need other treatments, including:
- Breathing support
- Medications to treat low blood pressure
- Surgery to remove dead tissue
- Wound care for parts of the body with damaged skin
For more information about meningococcal disease, click here.
What are the recommendations for meningococcal vaccine?
There are two types of meningococcal vaccines licensed in the United States:
1. Meningococcal conjugate vaccines (MenACWY)
2. Serogroup B meningococcal vaccines (MenB)
The CDC recommends vaccination with meningococcal conjugate vaccine for all preteens and teens. The first dose should be given between 11 and 12 years of age, with a booster dose given at 16 years old.
Some teens may also be vaccinated with a serogroup B meningococcal vaccine, preferably at 16 through 18 years old, if they:
- Have a rare type of disorder (complement component deficiency)
- Are taking the medicine called Soliris®
- Have a damaged spleen or their spleen has been removed
- Are part of a population identified to be at increased risk because of a serogroup B meningococcal disease outbreak
In certain situations, other young children and adults could be recommended to get meningococcal vaccines.
For more information about the meningococcal vaccine, click here.
Whooping Cough (Pertussis)
Whooping cough, or pertussis, is a serious respiratory infection caused by the pertussis bacteria. Whooping cough is most harmful for young babies and can be deadly.
Since 2010, between 15,000 and 50,000 cases of whooping cough have been reported each year in the United States. Cases of whooping cough have been increasing over the past several years, and outbreaks of whooping cough can occur.
“Whooping cough can be deadly. Since 2010, up to 20 babies have died each year from whooping cough in the United States. Most of these babies don’t have protection against whooping cough because they are too young to get the shots.”
What are the signs and symptoms of whooping cough?
Whooping cough can cause uncontrollable, violent coughing, which often makes it hard to breathe. Its “whooping” name comes from the sharp breath intake sound right after a coughing fit. In babies[s1] , this disease can also cause life-threatening pauses in breathing with no cough at all.
Whooping cough starts with cold-like symptoms such as:
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Mild cough
- Slight fever
After 1-2 weeks, the cough progresses and classic symptoms of pertussis appear, such as:
- Paroxysms (fits) of many, rapid coughs followed by a high-pitched “whoop” sound
- Vomiting (throwing up) during or after coughing fits
- Exhaustion (very tired) after coughing fits
- Babies may have a pause in breathing (apnea) or turn blue (cyanosis) instead of having big coughing fits.
How can I help protect my child against whooping cough?
Get your Tdap shot in the third trimester of every pregnancy. Make sure your baby gets all of his doses of DTaP on time. Ensure everyone who will be in contact with your baby is be up-to-date on their whooping cough vaccine.
What are the serious risks associated with whooping cough?
- Pneumonia (infection in the lungs)
- Convulsions (violent, uncontrolled shaking)
- Encephalopathy (disease of the brain)
- Loss of bladder control
- Passing out
- Rib fractures from severe coughing
When should I get vaccinated?
Whooping cough is especially dangerous to babies who are too young to be vaccinated. Mothers should get the whooping cough vaccine during each pregnancy to pass some protection to their babies before birth. It is very important for your baby to get the whooping cough vaccine on time so they can start building their own protection against the disease[s2] .
The best way to protect against whooping cough (pertussis) is by getting the diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis shot (called DTaP for those 6 weeks through 6 years, or Tdap for those 7 and older). Doctors recommend that all children get the vaccine over the course of five doses given at the following five ages:
- 2 months
- 4 months
- 6 months
- 15 through 18 months
- 4 through 6 years
For unvaccinated people over the age of 11, including pregnant women, the CDC recommends the tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis shot. This shot for older children and adults is called Tdap.
For more information about whooping cough, click here.
Flu is a respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus. The flu virus infects the nose, upper airways, throat, and lungs. Flu spreads easily and can cause serious illness, especially for young children, older people, pregnant women, and people with certain long-term medical conditions like asthma and diabetes.
“In 2009, there was a flu pandemic in The United States that resulted in 358 flu-associated deaths in children.”
What are the signs and symptoms of the flu?
- Fever (not everyone with the flu has a fever)
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle or body aches
- Vomiting and/or diarrhea (this is more common in children than adults)
“The CDC estimates that since 2010, flu-related hospitalizations in children younger than 5 years old have ranged from 6,000 to 26,000 in the United States each year.”
What are the serious risks associated with the flu?
Flu seasons vary in how serious they are from one season[s1] to another. Most people who get influenza recover in a few days to two weeks. Each year, however, millions of children get sick with flu and thousands are hospitalized[s2]. Some die; in fact, three children died from the flu in Colorado in 2019. Children with long-term medical conditions like asthma, diabetes, and disorders of the brain or nervous system, and children younger than 5 years old (especially those younger than 2 years old) are more likely to be hospitalized. Some people who get a flu vaccine still might get sick with flu, but they are usually less sick and less likely to be hospitalized. Some of the more serious complications from the flu include:
- Pneumonia (lung infection)
- Dehydration (loss of body fluids)
- Worsening of long-term medical conditions, like asthma and diabetes
When should I get vaccinated?
Most people 6 months of age and older should get the flu vaccine once a year[s3], every year. Kids between the ages of 6 months and 8 years may need two doses, spaced at least 28 days apart, the first year they get the vaccine for best protection.
Flu viruses are constantly changing, so flu vaccine updates are made each year. Also, protection provided by flu vaccination wears off over time. Your flu vaccine will protect against flu all season, but vaccination will be needed again for the next flu season. It’s best to get your vaccine by the end of October.
For more information about the flu, click here.