Here are 5 infectious diseases vaccines have helped to nearly eradicate — and how well they work

Simple Health

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Months after vaccinations against the coronavirus started in the U.S., nearly 1 in 3 Americans says they don’t plan to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.

A recent study led by Texas A&M found 31% don’t plan to get the vaccine once it becomes available to them.

The No. 1 reason cited for not getting the vaccine is the worry that it won’t be safe, followed by the belief that it won’t work.

However, history has shown us vaccines are not only safe and effective, but they can also help eradicate infectious diseases.


Polio is a potentially deadly disease that can invade a person’s brain and spinal cord, causing paralysis. In the 1940s, before a vaccine existed, polio disabled an average of 35,000 Americans each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But while polio has been eradicated in the United States since 1979, it’s still a threat in some countries.

The CDC says the current vaccine is 99% effective.


Measles used to infect millions of Americans each year, hospitalize thousands, and kill hundreds. Symptoms can include a cough, runny nose, red eyes, fever, and rash.

There’s been a 99% reduction in measles cases since vaccinations began in the 1960s, according to the CDC.

Two doses of measles portion of the MMR vaccine are about 97% effective at preventing measles.


Mumps typically starts with fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, and loss of appetite, according to the CDC. From there, most people will experience swelling in their salivary glands, which can cause puffy cheeks and a tender, swollen jaw.

The disease was one of the most common causes of meningitis and hearing loss in American kids until the introduction of a vaccine in 1967.

Two doses of the mumps component of the MMR vaccine are about 88% effective.


Diphtheria used to be a common cause of both illness and death for children in the United States, and currently kills 1 in 10 people who contract it., according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Complications include paralysis, pneumonia, and lung collapse.

In the 1920s the U.S. saw as many as 200,000 cases per year.

That number has dropped by 99.9% thanks to the use of vaccines.


You may remember getting chickenpox, a disease that used to infect millions, hospitalize thousands, and kill more than 100 people each year.

The disease cases an itchy rash with as many as 500 blisters all over the body, according to the CDC.

The vaccine became available in the U.S. in 1995 and is credited with saving thousands of lives since then.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Top Stories

More Top Stories

Tracking the Coronavirus

Coronavirus Cases Tracker

Latest Central Texas COVID-19 Cases

More Coronavirus Live Blogs

Trending Stories

Don't Miss