The diseases you may have forgotten about, thanks to vaccines

October 26, 2022 | by Edward-Elmhurst Health
Categories: Healthy Driven Life

Something happened during the summer of 2022 that hasn’t happened in the United States since 1979.

Someone was infected by poliovirus.

The 20-year-old man from New York state experienced low-grade fever, neck stiffness, back and abdominal pain, constipation, weakness and paralysis.

It’s not clear how the person encountered the virus, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that the infected person was not vaccinated. A survey of wastewater in the New York area found polio virus that was derived from the oral polio vaccine (OPV), which contains live, weakened polio virus and is not used in the United States.

Those who are fully vaccinated against polio, which requires four shots typically given in infancy through age 6, are 99 percent immune after the third dose. If you are vaccinated, you are protected against polio virus disease and paralysis if you are exposed to the live virus.

The polio vaccine has been available since 1955. The inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV) was introduced first, followed by the OPV in 1963. While the oral vaccine is no longer used in the United States, it is used in other parts of the world.

The infection from 2022 underscored the importance of vaccines, not just to prevent individual illness but to prevent the viruses from spreading to vulnerable populations.

Serious diseases like polio, measles, mumps, chickenpox and whooping cough are all preventable with vaccines.

You likely don’t remember being vaccinated against some of the worst diseases, as the shots are mainly given in early childhood.

The CDC lists 14 diseases routine vaccinations cover:

  • Polio
  • Tetanus
  • Flu
  • Hepatitis B
  • Hepatitis A
  • Rubella
  • Hib
  • Measles
  • Whooping Cough (Pertussis)
  • Pneumococcal Disease
  • Rotavirus
  • Mumps
  • Chickenpox
  • Diphtheria

Some viruses, such as flu, require targeted vaccinations each season. And as we saw in 2020, sometimes we encounter new viruses—like COVID-19—that we can target with vaccines.

The vaccines for flu and COVID-19 are very effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death from the viruses. Some people will still become infected despite being vaccinated, however their symptoms typically will be lessened.

Flu season is here, and experts say they’re watching for a potential COVID-19 resurgence this winter. To protect yourself and those around you from severe illness, make sure you’re up to date on vaccines.

Edward-Elmhurst Health has COVID-19 vaccine appointments available to ages 6 months and older, including the updated bivalent booster for those eligible. Schedule your COVID-19 vaccine now.

Did you get your flu shot? Don't wait! Protecting yourself with a flu shot helps reduce the risk of serious illness. Flu shots are available through your primary care physician's office and at our walk-in care locations.

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