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Effective vaccines are one of the greatest public health achievements. Dr. Tina Q. Tan shares how the November issue is dedicated to vaccines, from the history to tackling vaccine hesitancy.
Since 1796, when Edward Jenner inoculated cowpox into 8-year-old James Phipps to protect him against smallpox, a related virus, a host of effective vaccines have been developed and licensed to fight a growing number of viral and bacterial diseases. The development and use of vaccines are felt to be the No. 1 greatest public health achievement of the 20th century, and they have had a significant effect all over the world. The widespread use of vaccines has resulted in the eradication of smallpox; elimination of polio in the Americas and many other areas of the world; and control of the transmission and spread of diseases such as tetanus, diphtheria, measles, mumps, rubella, varicella, rotavirus, Haemophilus influenzae type b, and pneumococcal disease. It is also the hope that, if we can achieve herd immunity by getting most of the eligible population vaccinated against COVID-19, we can also declare the current pandemic under control. Just as we were shipping this issue, we got the encouraging news that an expert committee at the US Food and Drug Administation recommended the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine be authorized for use in children aged 5 to 11 years. Elsewhere, through the global initiatives of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, many of the other current childhood vaccines are now available to children in resource-poor countries and are having a major impact on infant and childhood morbidity and mortality from vaccine preventable diseases.
This special vaccine issue, written by the Editorial Advisory Board of Contemporary Pediatrics®, highlights the importance of vaccination, provides the current US vaccine schedule for persons aged 0 to 18 years, and explores new vaccines in development. One of the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the dramatic decline in the administration rates of routine preventive vaccines, which means many children are not up-to-date with their vaccinations. It is of utmost importance that health care providers ensure they are back on track because most children have resumed in-person learning.
The widespread continued development of vaccines play a crucial public health role in the control of the spread and transmission of diseases. Vaccines provide practitioners with tools necessary to protect their patients against a growing number of vaccine-preventable diseases and give health care providers the ability to significantly affect the morbidity and mortality associated with them.
With warmest regards,
Tina Q. Tan