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Discover: What Would Happen If We Didn’t Have Vaccines?

By Leslie Nemo

SARS-CoV-2 might soon become the 26th pathogen that U.S. health officials can immunize against. And while none of us will soon forget the coronavirus pandemic, widespread vaccinations throughout time have helped the public forget the threats that other pathogens carry.

As the COVID-19 pandemic persists in the U.S., some caregivers have put off bringing children in for routine shots. There’s been a large decline in immunizations, and it’s becoming worrisome, says Angela Myers, the director of the infectious disease division at Children’s Mercy Kansas City.

“We cannot forget about the importance of childhood vaccines in the middle of this,” Myers says. If those delays continue, measles and other illnesses could surge. People might get a glimpse of what it would be like without vaccines.

For example, institutions like Children’s Mercy Kansas City see one to two cases a year of Haemophilus influenzae type b, or Hib, says Myers. Before the vaccine appeared in 1990, the bacteria sickened 20,000 children annually in the U.S. and killed between 3 and 6 percent of them.

“It was an amazing advancement for pediatric medicine when this (vaccine) came out,” Myers says. But when it comes to understanding the ramifications of getting sick with this bacteria, “some have forgotten — or some never knew.” Without this vaccine and several others, now-rare diseases would still be sending people to the hospital and potentially leaving them with a lifetime of aftermath to deal with.


Read the full story via Discover

Learn more about Infectious Diseases Programs at Children's Mercy