I imagine there is a different answer with every person who is asked. And I’m sure each answer would be as true as the last. Incredible inventions have changed our lives and continue to do so.
As a medical provider I have witnessed some awesome medical inventions that have saved and improved lives. My answer to the question: vaccines.
Let me explain why:
The eradication of smallpox in 1979 remains one of humanity’s greatest achievements. It was only made possible with vaccination. History books are the only way for us to learn about and understand this formerly dreaded disease. Today, this is a disease we no longer need to worry about because of a vaccine.
Polio is set to be next, with cases falling from an estimated 350,000 in 1988 to 140 in 2020. Think of the millions of individuals who did not have to suffer from the disease. Without vaccines there are tens or 100s of thousands of people living today who would be on crutches or in wheelchairs. Pause for a moment and consider the incredible achievement that represents.
Since the 1980s when immunization began ramping up around the world vaccines have saved lives that would otherwise have been lost early in childhood. Lives of individuals who would go on to have their own children, contribute to society and boost their country’s development.
Between 1990 and 2017, immunization has helped to halve the number of deaths of children under five years old. Vaccines save five lives a minute in lower-income countries. Although too many children still don’t have access to vaccines, preventing diseases like measles and tetanus means that millions of children are given the chance to grow, to go to school and to live healthy lives.
It is easy for us to lose sight of something that never happened. Let’s not allow that to happen.
I’ll close this blog with a list of diseases that are prevented or lessened with vaccines.
- Chickenpox (Varicella)
- Flu (Influenza)
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- HPV (Human Papillomavirus)
- Whooping Cough (Pertussis)
What’s your answer to the question in the title of this blog? Share it with us. Join us on Friday, February 11 from 10:00 to 10:30 a.m. for a conversation on this topic. Click here to register now.
Mark Carlson, MD