The Ebola virus has gotten a lot of press lately and just this past week there was a suspected case in the Kansas City area. That case has been ruled out as Ebola and in fact, as bad as Ebola is, there are other diseases that should scare us a lot more.
Ebola only spreads through direct contact with bodily fluids of a person who is sick with Ebola. In fact, Ebola is difficult to spread. The virus can only be passed to others during a specific time frame when symptoms are present, typically about a week after exposure.
But while the Ebola outbreak grabs all the headlines, infectious diseases like influenza kills thousands of people every single year — without grabbing many headlines. Airborne illnesses, such as the flu, are a bigger threat because they are easier to transmit and kill more people. Fortunately a person can become vaccinated for the flu to help prevent contracting the illness or lessening symptoms if they do get ill.
As you can see from the chart above, the flu vaccine has gone a long way to help reduce deaths associated with the illness. The chart also shows the effectiveness of other vaccinations in reducing death from the disease the vaccination is designed to prevent. Vaccinations save lives but there’s still a lot of work to do to make sure everyone who needs to be vaccinated has access.
While only a very small percentage of children in the world are completely unvaccinated, the vast majority — about 95% — don’t receive the full suite of 11 vaccinations recommended by the World Health Organization (BCG, Tetanus, Pertussis, Diphtheria, Polio, Measles, Rubella, Pneumococcal, Rotavirus, Hib, and Hepatitis B).
Every year, huge numbers of children around the world, especially in developing countries, are infected with preventable diseases. Many of these illnesses were much-feared and very common in the U.S. until the introduction of widespread vaccination. There’s no question vaccinations are effective, they prevent illness and they save lives.