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Few medical interventions of the past century can rival the effect that immunization has had on longevity, economic savings, and quality of life. Seventeen diseases are now preventable through vaccines routinely administered to children and adults in the United States (Table 122-1), and most vaccine-preventable diseases of childhood are at historically low levels (Table 122-2). Health care providers deliver the vast majority of vaccines in the United States in the course of providing routine health services and therefore play an integral role in the nation's public health system.

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Table 122–1. Diseases that Are Now Preventable with Vaccines Routinely Administered in the United States to Children and/or Adults 
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Table 122–2. Decline in Vaccine-Preventable Diseases in the United States Following Widespread Implementation of National Vaccine Recommendations 
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Vaccine Impact

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Direct and Indirect Effects

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Immunizations against specific infectious diseases protect individuals against infection and thereby prevent symptomatic illnesses. Specific vaccines may blunt the severity of clinical illness (e.g., rotavirus vaccines and severe gastroenteritis) or reduce complications (e.g., zoster vaccines and postherpetic neuralgia). Some immunizations also reduce transmission of infectious disease agents from immunized people to others, thereby reducing the impact of infection spread. This indirect impact is known as herd ...

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