The joy of immunizations...happy to be disease-free

  • Published
  • By Capt. Stephanie Wilson
  • 23rd Medical Group
Since the development of the smallpox vaccine, there has been controversy regarding the use of immunizations..."Do we need them?" "Are they safe?" 

To help aid in understanding the importance of immunizations, we should start with a brief history of the first immunization, the smallpox vaccine.

Smallpox is an illness caused by a virus called Variola. This illness was common centuries ago, and had a fatality rate of 30% or more in infected individuals. 

In 1796, Dr. Edward Jenner created the first vaccination by injecting a child with a similar, milder virus, and noting later that the child did not develop smallpox after exposure. 

Since this discovery, smallpox vaccination has been issued worldwide, and the illness has been "eradicated" from the entire world. 

The last U.S. case of smallpox was reported in 1949, and the last worldwide case was reported in Somalia in 1977. 

Although laboratory stock of the virus remains, there have been no human cases in over 30 years.

Following the smallpox vaccine, there have been numerous other vaccinations created, tested, approved, and recommended for use. 

These vaccinations have greatly reduced the occurrence of illness and outbreaks for several debilitating, and even potentially fatal illnesses such as Polio, Pertussis, Diptheria, Measles, Rubella, and Haemophilus influenza type b.

In the past few years there has been growing debate about the use of childhood immunizations, such that there has been increasing refusal of immunizations by parents. 

While immunizations are not individually required, they are strongly recommended not only for the safety of individual children, but also for the safety of all children that interact within our communities. 

Health professionals must take both individual and community health into consideration when encouraging the administration of all immunizations according to the recommended schedule.

For parents who are considering or insisting on not giving their child the recommended immunizations as scheduled, I ask that you take a few things into consideration: 

· The diseases that immunizations help prevent are serious. Although there is a range of severity, most are potentially life threatening. 

· Most of the diseases that immunizations help to prevent are not common in this country because of previous compliance with immunizations. 

· The individuals that are most susceptible to the diseases that immunizations help to prevent are young children, which is why most immunizations are given during infancy.
· Immunizations are tested repeatedly before they are recommended for use to ensure their safety, and they continue to be monitored during their use for any indication of negative effects. 

· Immunizations do NOT cause autism or developmental disorders. 

· Immunizations are NOT made from aborted fetal tissue. 

If you have questions about childhood immunizations, please contact the Moody Immunization clinic at 257-4317, the Moody Pediatric clinic at 257-7293, visit the American Academy of Pediatrics website at, or the Center for Disease Control website at 

Please "Immunize Georgia's Little Guys."