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National Immunization Awareness Month

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National Immunization Awareness Month

Every August, the medical and scientific worlds take a moment to celebrate National Immunization Awareness Month by celebrating past achievements and discussing new discoveries and opportunities. 

New vaccines can be scary and even we at Blue Mountain Hospital understand that there is a fear of something new. It's good to hesitate and question when something new could be entering your body, but understanding the history of vaccines is important to understanding that vaccines are healthy, safe, and vital to our futures. 

In honor of National Immunization Awareness Month, BMH has decided to dedicate each week to a monumental and historical vaccine. You've heard enough about COVID, but have you heard of:

The Smallpox Vaccine

The smallpox vaccine is one of, if not the most, effective vaccine in the world as smallpox today is completely eradicated and no one receives the vaccine because it's simply not needed. The smallpox vaccine was developed in 1796 by Edward Jenner and is said to be the first successful vaccine. Smallpox is a flu-like virus, but with the added symptom of blisters all over your body. Even with the smallpox vaccine being developed that early, the disease still killed over 300 million people worldwide. Due to a global vaccination effort, the vaccine was finally put to good use and put an end to the disease in 1977. 

The Polio Vaccine 

Poliomyelitis, most commonly known as Polio, is an infection virus that can causes nerve injury that can lead to paralysis, difficulty breathing, and other issues. The virus is highly contagious and mostly affected children. Polio famously affected President Franklin D. Roosevelt and left him wheelchair bound for a majority of his adult life. In 1953, Jonas Salk announced the first successful test of the polio vaccine. While Polio is mostly eradicated (less than 50 people contracted Polio last year), it is recommended that children get a round of four shots to be fully protected from the disease. 

Varicella Vaccine

Do you remember having Varicella? I do. Depending on how young you are, you may never have had varicella. Oh, and what is varicella? It's commonly known as the Chicken Pox. At one time in history, getting chicken pox was an almost universal childhood experience. Everyone was out for a few days and came back with at least one or two chicken pox scars from the blisters that formed from catching the virus. There is no cure for the Chicken Pox, but there is a vaccine. The vaccine was added to the childhood immunization schedule in 1995 and since the vaccine was widely given, occurrences of the Chicken Pox has fallen more than 90%. 

Tdap Vaccine

Our last vaccine highlight for Immunization Awareness Month is actually three vaccines in one. In 1949, the Diphtheria antiserum, Tetanus antiserum, and the Pertussis vaccine were combined into the DTP shot that we all receive today. All three of the diseases that are kept at bay by this vaccine are caused by bacteria and have proven to be deadly. Before this vaccine was introduced, about 9,000 children died from pertussis (whooping cough) every year and today there are only about 10,000 cases and very few deaths. Thanks to this vaccine, diphtheria has been almost eradicated according to the CDC. We are thankful to Emil von Behring, Pearl Kendrick, and Grace Eldering for inventing these vaccines! 

Thank you to everyone who has followed along with us on our historical journey into the world of vaccines. When you look back on everything that these simple shots have done for the world, it is truly amazing. We are thankful to all of the hardworking minds that dedicated their lives to making the world a safer and healthier place. If you have any questions about vaccines, please make sure to contact your physician.