“If I don’t give my kids all these vaccines, won’t all these ‘preventable’ childhood disease come back?” Great question let me explain.
Diseases have cycles.
Small Pox: In the US we once vaccinated against this in the 1800s and it has been completely eradicated from the globe since the 1980s. (diseaseseliminated) We stopped vaccinating against it, so why isn’t it raging right now? There are many disease which we do not vaccinate for in the US like typhoid fever, cholera, scarlet fever, tuberculosis.
Typhoid fever, “In the United States each year, about 350 people are diagnosed with typhoid fever and 90 people are diagnosed with paratyphoid fever each year.” (cdctyphoidfever). Wouldn’t you think it should be raging if we are not vaccinating against this in the US? On a side note some other countries do vaccinate against this. This goes to show that when you don’t vaccinated against a disease it does not mean it will automatically come back and become a problem. So why are we still giving a polio vaccine to our kids when, “Since 1979, no cases of polio have originated in the U.S” (cdc.gov/polio)
Cholera, “Cholera, caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae, is very rare in the U.S. Cholera was common domestically in the 1800s but water-related spread has been eliminated by modern water and sewage treatment systems.” (cdccholera). Hmm interesting, so we never had a vaccine for this but somehow other things like cleaner water and sewage treatments helped eliminate this. Could cleaner water, better living conditions etc., have helped some of the other disease we had go away too?
Scarlet Fever, “Scarlet fever was a serious, life-threatening disease for thousands of children during the 19th century; it resulted in pandemics with substantial mortality rates. The introduction of penicillin also contributed to the decreased incidence of scarlet fever and its subsequent complications, such as rheumatic fever…Since 1999, a total of 9,400 cases of scarlet fever have been reported in the United States by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.” (uspharmacist).
So now there are only a few hundred cases per year of scarlet fever in the US. There is not a vaccine to prevent this. So how did scarlet fever become removed from the US list of notifiable diseases in 1970? Couldn’t some of the other diseases we vaccinate for also go away and stay away even if we stopped vaccinating for them?
Tuberculosis TB, “During 2019, a total of 8,920 new cases (of TB) were provisionally reported in the United States.” (cdc.gov) “BCG (TB vaccine) is not generally recommended for use in the United States because of the low risk of infection with Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the variable effectiveness of the vaccine against adult pulmonary TB, and the vaccine’s potential interference with tuberculin skin test reactivity.” (cdc.gov).
I found that very interesting. The fact that we have thousands of cases of TB in the US each year and we don’t recommend a vaccine here partly due to the low risk of infection. Yet we have a much lower risk of infection and barely any cases of things like tetanus (average of 30 cases total a year) (cdc), diphtheria, (rarely reported in the US) (cdc) Haemophilus influenzae (HIB) (less than 50 cases per year) (cdc) and no cases of things like polio (last case was imported in 1994.) (cdc) And we still vaccinate against them in the US with up to 5 doses of vaccines for thing like diphtheria and tetanus! That should make you go HMMM?!
I hope this sheds some light on the myth that these diseases will automatically come back if we stop vaccinating against them. I hope this encourages you also to look more into these diseases and the incidences of them to help you make an informed decision about what vaccines to give your children.