Vaccine-Preventable Diseases

Vaccine-preventable diseases are at or near record lows with most infants and toddlers receiving all recommended vaccines by age 2. There is, however, a group of under-immunized or non-immunized children, who may be partly responsible for increases in outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases. Many adolescents and adults are under-immunized as well, partly because they opted out of new vaccines that became available and partly because they were on an old vaccine schedule that may not have recognized the need for two doses such as measles and varicella.

List of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases

  • Anthrax
  • Cervical Cancer
  • Diphtheria
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)
  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
  • H1N1 Flu
  • (Swine Flu)
  • Influenza (Seasonal Flu)
  • Japanese Encephalitis (JE)
  • Measles
  • Meningococcal
  • Mumps
  • Pertussis (Whooping Cough)
  • Pneumococcal
  • Poliomyelitis (Polio)
  • Rabies
  • Rotavirus
  • Rubella (German Measles)
  • Shingles (Herpes Zoster)
  • Smallpox
  • Tetanus (Lockjaw)
  • Tuberculosis
  • Typhoid Fever
  • Varicella (Chickenpox)
  • Yellow Fever

Infectious Diseases and Vaccines

Here are two examples of how vaccines have impacted infectious diseases:

Varicella (chicken pox)

A study recently conducted in the United States found that chicken pox rates have dropped significantly since the varicella vaccine was introduced in 1996. The varicella vaccine was initially administered as one dose but after medical experts continued to record outbreaks of chicken pox, a two-dose immunization program was started in 2007. Between 1994 and 2002, the cases of outpatient visits due to chicken pox decreased by 88 percent and hospital admissions due to varicella decreased by 59 percent.


Pertussis, also called whooping cough, is an acute infectious disease caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis. Outbreaks of pertussis were first described in the 16th century, and the organism was first isolated in 1906.

Throughout the 20th century, pertussis was one of the most common childhood diseases and was a major cause of childhood mortality in the United States. Before the introduction of the pertussis vaccine in the 1940s, more than 200,000 cases of pertussis were reported every year. Since widespread use of the vaccine began, rates of infection have decreased more than 80 percent compared with the pre-vaccine era.

Pertussis continues to be a major health problem for children in developing countries; the World Health Organization estimates that there were 195,000 deaths resulting from this disease in 2008 alone.

Overall, vaccines have been very effective in decreasing rates of preventable diseases and have saved millions of lives. For those few who are adversely affected by a vaccine, you are entitled to file a petition with the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. Those who qualify include people that believe they were injured by a vaccine; if you are the parent or legal guardian of a child or disabled adult believed to have been injured by a vaccine; or the legal representative of the estate of a deceased individual whose death you believe was caused by a vaccine. The injury must have lasted for more than six months after the vaccine was given or resulted in a hospital stay and surgery or a death.

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