Immunization with Vaccines
The greatest health achievement of the past century has been the control of
devastating, epidemic, infectious diseases by immunization (vaccination). Edward
Jenner invented immunization when he inoculated an eight year old boy with
scrapings of cowpox lesions. Jenner had noted the similarity of cowpox and small
pox lesions, and was observant enough to notice that milkmaids, exposed to cow
pox lesions on the teats of cows, did not get smallpox.
Two hundred years later one major viral disease, smallpox infections, were
eradicated from the planet. This masterful success of immunization was achieved
by the World Health Organization (WHO) by the relentless vaccination of all
people who came in contact with the disease, until the smallpox virus had no
vulnerable hosts to infect. The smallpox virus is incapable of an independent
existence. With no remaining human hosts, the virus is unable to reproduce.
Diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, measles, mumps, influenza, typhoid,
cholera, yellow fever, hepatitis, and polio are among the diseases now
controlled by immunization.
An Expert Panel of the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA)
published revised guidelines for immunization. Vaccines licensed since 2002
include human papillomavirus vaccine; live, attenuated influenza vaccine;
meningococcal conjugate vaccine; rotavirus vaccine; tetanus toxoid, reduced
diphtheria toxoid, acellular pertussis vaccine and herpes zoster vaccine.
New combination vaccines that have become available are 1 measles, mumps,
rubella, and varicella vaccine; 2 tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis and
inactivated polio vaccine; 3 tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis and inactivated
polio/Haemophilus influenzae type b vaccine.
For young children, hepatitis A vaccines are recommended. All children aged 6
months through 18 years and adults who are 50 years or older should receive
annual influenza vaccines.
Worldwide, rotavirus is the leading cause of severe gastroenteritis in
children less than 5 years of age. Rotavirus is a deadly disease in the
developing world that vaccination may prevent. A human-bovine rotavirus vaccine,
RotaTeq® was recommended in 2006 by the Advisory Committee on Immunization
Practices for routine vaccination of U.S. infants. Three doses of RotaTeq at
ages 2, 4, and 6 months are required.