Today, in the United States, children typically get:
36 doses of 10 vaccines (HepB, DTaP, Hib, Prevnar, IPV, Rota, MMR, Varivax, HepA, Flu) before starting kindergarten that protect them against 14 vaccine-preventable diseases
at least three or four more vaccines as a preteen and teen, including a Tdap booster and vaccines to protect against HPV and meningococcal disease, plus they continue to get a yearly flu vaccine
So by age 18, that equals about 57 dosages of 14 different vaccines to protect them against 16 different vaccine-preventable diseases.
While that sounds like a lot, keep in mind that 33% of those immunizations are just from your child’s yearly flu vaccine.
Of course, kids in the United States don’t get all available vaccines and aren’t protected against all possible vaccine preventable diseases. Some vaccines are just given if traveling to a high risk area or in other special situations.
Vaccine-preventable diseases (in the United States, children and teens are routinely protected against the diseases highlighted in bold) include:
adenovirus – a military vaccine
anthrax – vaccine only given if high risk
chicken pox – (Varivax, MMRV)
cholera – vaccine only given if high risk
dengue – vaccine not available in the United States
diphtheria – (DTaP/Tdap)
hepatitis A – (HepA)
hepatitis B – (HepB)
hepatitis E – vaccine not available in the United States
HPV – (Gardasil)
Haemophilus influenzae type b – (Hib)
measles – (MMR, MMRV)
meningococcal disease – (MCV4 and MenB and MenC)
pneumococcal disease – (Prevnar13 and PneumoVax23)
pertussis – (DTaP/Tdap)
polio – (bOPV and IPV)
Q-fever – vaccine not available in the United States
rabies – vaccine only given if high risk
rotavirus – (RV1, RV5)
rubella – (MMR, MMRV)
shingles – vaccine only given to seniors
smallpox – eradicated
tetanus – (DTaP/Tdap)
tick-borne encephalitis – vaccine not available in the United States
tuberculosis – (BCG) – vaccine only given if high risk
typhoid fever – vaccine only given if high risk
yellow fever – vaccine only given if high risk
Discontinued vaccines also once protected people against Rocky mountain spotted fever, plague, and typhus.
These vaccine-preventable diseases can be contrasted with infectious diseases for which no vaccines yet exist, like RSV, malaria, norovirus, and HIV, etc., although vaccines are in the pipeline for many of these diseases.
What To Know About Vaccine Preventable Diseases
Available vaccines are helping to eliminate or control a number of vaccine-preventable diseases, like polio, measles, and diphtheria, but a lot of work is left to be done.
An attenuated vaccine is one that has been weakened, so that it can’t make you sick, but will still trigger the creation of antibodies and an immune reaction.
Examples of attenuated vaccines include the:
chicken pox vaccine
nasal spray flu vaccine
oral polio vaccine
oral typhoid vaccine
yellow fever vaccine
These are all live vaccines and are often described as being “the closest thing to a natural infection.”
The main downside of live, attenuated vaccines, in addition to the fact that they can’t usually be given to people with immune system problems, is that there is always the “remote possibility exists that an attenuated microbe in the vaccine could revert to a virulent form and cause disease.”
That became a concern with the oral polio vaccine and the very small risk of vaccine-associated paralytic poliomyelitis (VAPP). It has not been an issue with other live, attenuated vaccines, such as measles or flu.