One Word On How Our Health Has Changed in a Lifetime

 Lately, I have been thinking about the changes in American health that have taken place in my lifetime, all of them explainable in one word. But before everybody shouts out the word, let's look at a few of the changes, detailed in an article published in 2007 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, by Sandra W. Roush & Trudy V. Murphy, both then at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • Incidence of measles down 99.9%, deaths down 100%. (Peak year was 1958, when 763,094 cases occurred, my own among them.)
  • Mumps cases down 95.9 %. (Peak was 212,932 in 1964.) Deaths down 100% from peak of 39. 
  • Polio cases and deaths both down by 100%. (Peak year was 1952, at 21,269 cases and 3145 deaths.)
  • Rubella cases down 99.9%, deaths down 100%. Peak year was 1964 with 488,796 cases, but deaths were higher in 1968 at 24.
  • Smallpox down 100%.  Peak of 110,672 cases occurred in 1920, and 2510 deaths in 1902. (OK, I wasn't alive then. But the last major U.S. outbreak occurred in 1949, two years before I was born. And the disease was still causing 10-15 million cases a year worldwide as late as 1967. Smallpox became the first disease successfully eradicated in 1980.)
  • Hepatitis A cases and deaths both down 87%.  Peak was 254,518 and 298 deaths in 1971.
  • Hepatitis B cases and deaths both down 80%.  Peak of 74,361 cases and 267 deaths occurred in 1985.
  • HIB (invasive Haemophilus influenzae Type B) peak unknown, down 100% from an average of 20,000 cases and 995 deaths a year, mostly in small children.
  • Chickenpox cases down 85% and deaths down 81%.  The peak of 5.4 million cases occurred in 1988 and the peak of 138 deaths was in 1973.  That works out today to 3.5 million cases and 86 deaths avoided every year. 

   O.K.  You can say the word now: Every one of these extraordinary success stories was the result of a VACCINE, and each of these vaccines has saved the lives and well-being of people you and I know and love.

Think about that next time you hear someone expressing vague doubts about getting their kids vaccinated.  A recent survey of anti-vax parents found that 27% of them would rather have a child die than be born with autism.  

Independent studies have repeatedly demonstrated that the risk of getting autism from a vaccine is entirely imaginary. 

But the choice of death is real.