We keep seeing animated discussions about vaccinations. These discussions are often of an academic nature because the need and impact of vaccines is not immediately apparent today.
The main reason being: thanks to vaccinations, we no longer see these devastating diseases.
The best historical example is the smallpox; they are now considered eradicated but have previously caused major epidemics with over 30% mortality. The observation that people infected with cowpox never had smallpox led to a breakthrough. With this knowledge, the English physician Edward Jenner (1749-1823) infected a boy with the cowpox in 1796. The boy later proved immune to common smallpox. Coming from cows, Jenner named his vaccine after the Latin vacca (cow).
In Denmark, confirmands and bridal couples had to prove that they had been vaccinated against smallpox as early as 1811. Interestingly enough, it was possible to introduce compulsory smallpox vaccination in Europe within 15 years, although nobody knew how vaccinations work. This was mainly because people had experienced and knew how deadly real pox are.
Countless examples and statistical data could be cited to demonstrate and prove the necessity and historical role of vaccines (for example, child mortality from 1900 to today …). If some of the anti-vaccinationists had personal experience with diphtheria and polio, they would surely change their minds quickly.
As a practicing pediatrician, I was able to personally experience the effectiveness of the Hemophilus B vaccine (part of the six-shot vaccine). The previously dreaded bacterial epiglottis inflammation (often with suffocation) has virtually disappeared. Today, we can also effectively prevent meningitis and cervical cancer.
But why are vaccinations still necessary today?
The answer is relatively simple: we did not eliminate the pathogens with the vaccines, i.e., when the vaccination coverage rate sinks and the disease appears, the pathogens can be transmitted again from person to person, causing an epidemic. The best example of this is the recent increasing measles epidemic.
The vaccinations also have stopped lighter childhood illnesses. Unvaccinated persons can however also have childhood illnesses in adulthood, and these diseases which are minor during childhood (mumps, chickenpox, for example) can then cause serious complications.