In the two centuries since vaccines were first developed, over a dozen of what used to be the most common infectious diseases have practically been eradicated, according to data compiled by the Centers for Diseases Control. The dramatic impact of vaccinations on Americans’ health is illustrated in an infographic compiled by designer Leon Farrant (“morbidity” refers to the number of people getting sick from, but not necessarily dying of, the diseases):
Of course, vaccines only safeguard Americans’ health when they’re taken effectively. Although children typically have to stick to a vaccination schedule in order to attend school, there’s no system currently in place to ensure that adults get their recommended vaccines — and the CDC warns that “unacceptably low” numbers of American adults are getting their shots for diseases like influenza, pertussis, and HPV.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, the CDC, the EPA, and doctors and scientists around the world all agree that vaccines are safe. But some pockets of resistance still remain, and persistent myths about vaccines may dissuade some Americans from getting the shots they need.