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13 Vaccine-Preventable Diseases

Doctor vaccinating little girl in clinic; blog: vaccine-preventable diseases

In the United States, we are fortunate to have access to so many vaccines that prevent potentially serious conditions. By working with your child’s doctor following the CDC recommended immunization schedule for your child, you are protecting them from many vaccine-preventable diseases. This list is not exhaustive, but the following vaccine-preventable diseases highlight why immunization is important.

1. Influenza

Influenza, or flu, can be prevented by the flu vaccine. The flu can be spread through the air or via direct contact. Flu symptoms include fever, body aches, sore throat, cough, and extreme fatigue. Most otherwise healthy people will not experience lasting complications from the flu, but it can cause pneumonia and be potentially life-threatening for some. Because there are so many different strains of the flu, there is no guarantee you won’t get sick. However, getting a flu shot every year greatly decreases your chances of getting sick.

2. Chickenpox

Chickenpox is caused by the varicella virus and can be protected against with the varicella vaccine. Chickenpox is spread through the air and direct contact with someone already infected. The hallmark symptoms of chickenpox are itchy rash, headache, fever, and fatigue. Potential complications of chickenpox include infected blisters, pneumonia, and brain swelling (called encephalitis). 

3. Hepatitis A

The Hep A vaccine protects against hepatitis A. This virus is spread through direct contact with an infected person or through contaminated food or water. Often, a person won’t notice any symptoms after they’ve been infected, but if they do those symptoms may include fever, loss of appetite, fatigue, jaundice, vomiting, and dark urine. The complications of Hepatitis A include liver failure, kidney disorders, pancreatic disorders, blood disorders, and joint pain. 

4. Hepatitis B

You can protect your child against hepatitis B if they receive the HepB vaccine. Unlike hepatitis A, hepatitis B can only be spread through contact with infected blood or bodily fluids. Symptoms include fever, headache, jaundice, weakness, and joint pain. Hepatitis B infection can result in chronic liver infection, liver failure, and liver cancer.

5. Polio

The United States has been polio-free since 1979 due to a highly successful vaccination program that began in the 1950s. However, travelers from certain countries who come into the US have polio, so it’s important for children to get the IPV vaccine to protect against the disease. Polio may not cause any initial symptoms, but those infected may have a fever, sore throat, nausea, or headaches. The complications of polio are paralysis and death.

6. Mumps

Mumps is a vaccine-preventable disease that can be prevented with the MMR vaccine. Mumps is spread through the air and by direct contact. The infection causes swollen salivary glands, fever, headache, muscle pain, and fatigue. Complications include meningitis, which is an infection of the protective covering around the brain and spinal cord. Other complications include inflamed ovaries or testicles and deafness.

7. Measles

Measles is also protected against by the MMR vaccine. It is spread via direct contact and through the air. Symptoms of measles include a rash, fever, cough, pink eye, and runny nose. It can result in brain swelling, pneumonia, and can even be fatal.

8. Rubella

The third disease protected against by the MMR vaccine, rubella can cause a rash, fever, and swollen lymph nodes. It is spread through the air and direct contact. Rubella is most dangerous to pregnant women and causes miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery, or birth defects.

9. Hib Disease

Hib disease is the common name for illnesses caused by Haemophilus influenzae type b. The Hib vaccine can prevent this infection, which is spread through the air and direct contact. Hib disease is often asymptomatic but can result in meningitis, pneumonia, and an infection that can block the windpipe and cause serious breathing problems called epiglottitis.

10. Diptheria

Diptheria is protected against by the DTap vaccine. Diptheria causes symptoms such as sore throat, a mild fever, weakness, and swollen glands. However, it can result in heart muscle swelling, heart failure, coma, paralysis, and death.

11. Tetanus

Also protected against by the DTap vaccine, Tetanus is a disease that spreads through exposure through cuts or broken skin. The first symptoms of tetanus include stiffness in the neck and abdominal muscles, muscle spasms, fever, and difficulty swallowing. Tetanus can be fatal or cause breathing problems and broken bones.

12. Pertussis

The third and final condition protected against by the DTap vaccine is pertussis. Pertussis is a disease spread through the air and direct contact that causes a severe cough, runny nose, and apnea in infants. It can result in pneumonia and death.

13. Pneumococcal Disease

The PCV13 vaccine can protect against pneumococcus, which is spread through the air and direct contact. Pneumococcus can lead to pneumonia and result in meningitis, blood infection, and death.

At Kernodle Pediatrics, we know the importance of preventative medicine and vaccinations. If you have questions about pediatric immunizations or your child’s vaccination schedule, call (336) 538-2416 (Elon) or (919) 563-2500 (Mebane) to make an appointment. 

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