What You Need to Know About Vaccine-Preventable Diseases

The use of vaccines to combat dangerous diseases has been around for over two hundred years. One of the world’s first vaccines was discovered in 1796 to combat smallpox. Smallpox was a deadly disease that killed hundreds of millions of people across the globe. 

Here in the United States, the smallpox vaccine was discontinued in 1972 because smallpox was no longer a threat to children or adults. The vaccine did its job by preventing the spread of the disease. 

Thanks to hundreds of years of scientific research, we have vaccines for many other dangerous diseases like plague, cholera, typhoid, and polio. 

Vaccines Prevent Serious Disease in Children

The table below describes vaccine-preventable diseases. Many are often fatal. Children become immune or protected from these diseases by regularly scheduled vaccines that begin at birth and continue through early adulthood.  

Vaccine-Preventable Disease Disease
Description & Symptoms
When was the vaccine developed?
COVID-19

Contagious respiratory illness caused by a new virus.
Symptoms include fever, coughing, & difficulty breathing

2020
Diphtheria

Serious infection of the nose and throat.

Symptoms include difficulty breathing, sore throat, fever, & weakness.

1930s
Tetanus

Serious bacterial infection that causes painful muscle spasms and can cause the neck and jaw muscles to lock.

Symptoms include painful muscle spasms & difficulty swallowing

1940
Pertussis

Also known as “whooping cough”, pertussis is a highly contagious respiratory illness known for strong, uncontrollable coughing.

Symptoms include strong cough, nasal congestion, & sneezing

1914
Hepatitis A

Liver infection often caused by contaminated food or water.

Symptoms include tiredness, nausea, stomach pain, & fever.

1995
Hepatitis B

Liver infection caused by exposure to infected bodily fluids, such as blood.

Symptoms include yellowing eyes, stomach pain & dark urine.

1986
Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)

Bacterial infection of the brain and spinal cord can cause deafness & brain damage

Symptoms include fever, headache, stiff neck & tiredness. 

1985
Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

Sexually transmitted infection that can cause cervical and oral cancers, as well as genital and anal cancers.

Symptoms can include genital warts. There are often no symptoms at all.

2006
Influenza

Viral infection that affects the lungs, nose and throat.

Symptoms include fever, chills, muscle aches, cough, & congestion

1945
Meningococcal

Bacterial infection that affects the brain and spinal cord and can even affect the bloodstream.

Symptoms include fever, headache & stiff neck

1974
Measles

Very contagious viral disease that spreads through the air.

Symptoms include cough, runny nose, fever & red rashes.

1963
Mumps

Contagious viral disease that causes swelling of the salivary glands in the mouth.

Symptoms include fever, headache, swollen cheeks/jaws & tiredness

1967
Rubella

Contagious viral disease.

Symptoms include fever, sore throat & rash.

1969
Pneumococcal

Serious bacterial infection that can cause pneumonia and ear and sinus infections

Symptoms include fever, cough, chest pain, and chills.

1977
Polio

Serious viral disease that causes paralysis and is often fatal.

Symptoms include muscle weakness, breathing/swallowing problems & tiredness

1955
Rotavirus Contagious viral illness that causes severe diarrhea, stomach pain, vomiting & fever 1998
Varicella, or chickenpox Very contagious viral disease that causes rashes, itching, tiredness and fever. 1995


Mary Bridge Children’s Immunization Clinic follows the vaccination guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC).

The Mary Bridge Immunization Clinic partners with the Tacoma Pierce County Health Department to provide FREE vaccines for children. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 253-403-1767.