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Vaccines

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Vaccines

February 01, 2010

Vaccines are often cited as one of medicine's greatest accomplishments. From the first smallpox vaccine in the 1790s to the human papilloma virus vaccine in 2006, vaccines have stopped the spread of infections worldwide, including dreaded polio disease. Researchers now are investigating vaccines for non-infectious diseases, such as certain cancers. Although there have always been deep-seated fears about immunizations, controversy persists over the safety of childhood vaccines, with some parents fearing a link to autism. Dozens of scientific studies have found no evidence for any such link. Yet the fears continue, leading to declining immunization rates in some communities. As a result, there have been sporadic outbreaks of measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases, which dismays public health experts. Updated March 2010.

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