How many diseases can be prevented with vaccines?
Would you believe that there are about 29 vaccine-preventable diseases, from adenovirus and anthrax to typhoid fever and yellow fever?
That’s a lot more than the 16 that kids today routinely get vaccinated against…
Diseases That Are Not Vaccine Preventable
Whether you think about 16 or 29 vaccine-preventable diseases, they are a drop in the pocket when you think about all of the diseases that can’t be prevented with a vaccine.
Just consider all of the viruses and bacteria that can get you sick during cold and flu season:
- group A Streptococci – strep throat and scarlet fever
- Human metapneumovirus (HMPV) – bronchiolitis, colds, and viral pneumonia
- Human parainfluenza viruses (HPIVs) – bronchiolitis, bronchitis, colds, croup, or viral pneumonia
- norovirus – diarrhea and vomiting
- respiratory adenovirus – bronchitis, colds, croup, viral pneumonia, pink eye, and diarrhea
- Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) – wheezing and bronchiolitis in younger children, but colds in older kids and adults
- rhinovirus – the classic common cold
- rotavirus – diarrhea and vomiting, was much more common in the pre-vaccine era
- seasonal coronavirus – colds, bronchitis, and viral pneumonia
- Streptococcus pneumoniae – ear infections, meningitis, sinus infections, and pneumonia
And there are still thousands of other diseases that aren’t vaccine preventable, including African trypanosomiasis, Chagas disease, Chikungunya, Cytomegalovirus (CMV), Dengue fever, Ebola, Herpes Zoster, HIV, Hookworm disease, Leishmaniasis, Malaria, Schistosomiasis, and Zika, some of the most deadly diseases around.
Why Do We Only Fear Vaccine-Preventable Diseases?
So is it true that we only fear vaccine-preventable diseases and that’s why folks get vaccinated?
“Why aren’t you walking around concerned about leprosy every day? Why aren’t you concerned about someone from another country bringing leprosy into Australia or the US and somehow exposing all of our most vulnerable to this illness? I’ll tell you why. Because there’s no vaccine for leprosy. You are afraid of what we vaccinate for because these illnesses are hyped up all of the time. It’s propaganda. You are told what to fear, so they can then sell you an alleged solution.
The only diseases we fear are the ones that a vaccine has been developed and marketed for. We never feared measles and mumps in the early 20th century… Because its what the media tells us to do.”
Learn the Risk – Why aren’t we afraid of all diseases?
Did you know that there actually is a vaccine for leprosy? Don’t expect it to be added to our immunization schedule any time soon or to increase your fears about leprosy, as leprosy is not highly contagious and it can be cured.
Forget about leprosy though… If folks didn’t fear measles and mumps in the early 20th century, before we had vaccines to control these diseases, then why did epidemics so often lead to newspaper headlines, quarantines, and school closings?
And if we only fear diseases that a vaccine has been developed and marketed for, then why are so many parents afraid of RSV and herpes?
How many new parents won’t even let family members kiss their newborns because they are worried about herpes, even if they don’t have a cold sore? How many parents get panicked if they hear RSV, which can cause severe disease in high risk babies, but typically only causes cold symptoms in most others.
It is the diseases that aren’t vaccine preventable that might scare us a little bit…
What to Know About Fearing Vaccine-Preventable Diseases
Anti-vaccine folks push propaganda to make parents afraid of vaccines and to scare them away from vaccinating and protecting their kids. The idea that we are only afraid of vaccine preventable diseases is a good example.
More on Fearing Vaccine Preventable Diseases
- Antivax 101
- Vaccines: Separating Fact from Fear
- Letting go of the Paradigm of Fear
- Cashing In On Fear: The Danger of Dr. Sears
- A Vaccine For Leprosy
- WHO – Leprosy
- WHO – Global Leprosy Strategy 2016−2020: Accelerating towards a leprosy-free world
- CDC – RSV in Infants and Young Children
- AAP – Cold Sores in Children: About the Herpes Simplex Virus
- AAP – Protecting Your Baby from RSV
- Herpes and your baby
- Vaccine injuries and confirmation biases