Vaccine Preventable Diseases

Background

Over the years, vaccinations have prevented countless cases of illness and saved millions of lives. Since the introduction of vaccines, some diseases have become rare or even eliminated in the United States (U.S.). Vaccination is an important public health approach to prevent infants, children, teens, adults, and travelers of all ages from contracting and spreading certain deadly diseases. Although vaccinations are recommended, they may not be a one size fits all. Individuals may need different vaccinations, depending on their age, location, job, lifestyle, travel schedule, health conditions, or previous vaccinations.

Vaccine Preventable Diseases Data Overview

Check out the points below for the main takeaways from this page. 

• In 2019, a traveler with measles rode a bus through southern New Hampshire, accounting for the first case of measles in New Hampshire (NH) since 2011.

• Between 2018 and 2019, the state of NH experienced an outbreak of Hepatitis A. This outbreak accounted for 307 NH cases of Hepatitis A. Before the outbreak, there were about 4 to 6 Hepatitis A cases reported each year.

• There has been a national increase in mumps cases over the past several years, specifically on college and university campuses. Mumps cases in NH peaked in 2016, at 11 cases. This spike in cases was associated with an outbreak at University of New Hampshire at Durham. 

Bacterial Meningitis 

Bacterial Meningitis is a serious central nervous system disease causing swelling around the brain and spinal cord. Infection is caused by certain types of bacteria with major symptoms including fever, headache, stiff neck, and aching muscles. Although most people recover, this disease has the potential to be deadly in as little as a few hours. People who recover from bacterial meningitis infection often live with severe health outcomes including permanent disabilities (such as brain damage, hearing loss, and learning disabilities) or sepsis leading to tissue damage, organ failure, and even death. Bacterial meningitis is spread person to person through a variety of ways, including food, birth, and close contact with an infected person. The most effective way to protect against the different types of bacterial meningitis is through Meningococcal, Pneumococcal, and Hib vaccines.

Bacterial Meningitis Data Snapshot

In the U.S., over two thousand cases of Bacterial Meningitis are reported each year, with 70% occurring in children five years of age or younger. Infants two years of age or younger are at increased risk for bacterial meningitis compared to people in other age groups. In New Hampshire, cases of bacterial meningitis have increased 36% from 2014 to 1029. 

Chickenpox

Chickenpox is a highly contagious disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV). It can cause an itchy, blister-like rash that first appears on the chest, back, and face, then spreads over the entire body. Serious health complications from chickenpox can occur, but they are not common in healthy people who contract the disease.

Chickenpox Vaccine

The best way to protect yourself against chickenpox is to get the chickenpox vaccine. Everyone should get two doses of chickenpox vaccine if they have never had chickenpox or were never vaccinated. Two doses of the chickenpox vaccine is very safe and 90% effective at preventing the disease. Although very rare, a vaccinated person who contracts chickenpox will have mild symptoms.

Chickenpox Data Snapshot

Chickenpox used to be a very common disease in the U.S., with approximately 4 million cases in the early 1990s. Since the availability of the chickenpox vaccine in 1995, more than 3.5 million cases, 9k hospitalizations, and 100 deaths are prevented in the U.S. on an annual basis (CDC). In New Hampshire, cases of Chickenpox reduced 54% from 2014 to 2019. 

Hepatitis A & B

Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver. Since the liver is a vital organ that processes nutrients, filters the blood, and fights infections. Hepatitis can greatly affect these core body functions. Although hepatitis is often caused by a virus, it can also be caused by heavy alcohol use, toxins, some medications, and certain medical conditions. For more information and data, visit our Viral Hepatitis page.

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a vaccine preventable, communicable disease of the liver caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV). It is usually transmitted from person-to-person through the fecal-oral route or consumption of contaminated food or water. Hepatitis A can last from a few weeks to several months, with most recovering.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a vaccine preventable disease of the liver that often occurs as an acute infection, with chronic infection possibly developing later on. Chronic hepatitis B infection can be clinically treated and managed, but cannot be cured. Hepatitis B is primarily spread through blood, semen, or other body fluids.

Hepatitis A & B Data Snapshot

Annually, the U.S. sees approximately 6.7k new hepatitis A infections and 22.1k new hepatitis B infections (CDC). Although there are approximately 862k people in the U.S. living with hepatitis B, about two out of three people do not know they are infected. Hepatitis A outbreaks still occur in the U.S. In 2019, there was a significant increase in the number of people in New Hampshire (NH) diagnosed with hepatitis A, due to a nation-wide outbreak.  

Hepatitis A Prevention

The best way to protect yourself against hepatitis A is through vaccination received in two doses. The hepatitis A vaccine is both safe and effective. The vaccine is recommended for all children one to 18 years of age, as well as those with high risk factors, including people who inject drugs, travelers, men who have sex with men (MSM), people with HIV, and more. 

To prevent hepatitis A, it is also important to practice proper hand hygiene. Since hepatitis A can spread from stool or blood, hands should be washed thoroughly after using the bathroom, changing diapers, and before preparing or eating food. If you might have been exposed to hepatitis A, you should contact your health care provider. 

Measles, Mumps, & Rubella

Measles, mumps, and rubella are contagious viral diseases that were all very common in the U.S. prior to widespread vaccination.

Measles

Measles causes fever, rash, cough, runny nose, and red, watery eyes. Measles spreads very easily through the air when an infected person talks, coughs, or sneezes, and can spread before a person shows symptoms. This disease can cause major health complications, especially in children younger than five years of age.

Mumps

Mumps is classified by fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, and loss of appetite followed by swelling of salivary glands. Mumps is spread when an infected person talks, coughs, or sneezes. Most people with mumps fully recover, although it can occasionally cause serious health complications. 

Rubella

Rubella, also known as German Measles, usually results in mild illness, causing a low-grade fever, sore throat, and a rash that starts on the face and spreads throughout the body. Rubella is most dangerous to infants as it can cause serious birth defects in a fetus if a woman is infected during pregnancy.

Measles, Mumps, & Rubella Vaccine

The best protection from measles, mumps, and rubella is the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine. MMR vaccine is given later than some other childhood vaccines because the antibodies transferred from mother to baby can provide protection from disease and make the MMR vaccine less effective. The MMR vaccine is recommended for children between 12 months to 15 months of age. The MMR vaccine is recommended sooner if a child will be traveling internationally. This vaccine is very safe and effective, as two doses of MMR vaccine are 97% effective at preventing measles, 88% effective at preventing mumps, and one dose is 97% effective at preventing rubella (CDC).

Measles, Mumps, & Rubella Data Snapshot

Measles is still common in many parts of the world and travelers with measles continue to bring the disease into the U.S. In 2019, there was a total of 1,282 cases of measles reported in the U.S., the greatest number of cases reported since 1992. The majority of positive measles cases were in people who were unvaccinated. Since the MMR vaccination, the number of cases of mumps in the U.S. decreased more than 99%, with only a few hundred cases reported most years. Since 2006, there have been several increases in cases and outbreaks of mumps (CDC). This trend is echoed in New Hampshire, as seen in the graph below. 

Seasonal Influenza

Also known as the flu, seasonal influenza is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. Influenza can cause mild to severe illness possibly resulting in hospitalization or death. People at high risk of serious influenza complications include young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease, and people 65 years and older. The two main types of influenza virus, types A and B, are generally spread through people and are responsible for the seasonal influenza epidemics each year.

Vaccination

The CDC recommends a yearly influenza vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older as the first and most important step in protecting against influenza viruses. While there are many different influenza viruses, a vaccine protects against the viruses that research suggests will be most common for that year. 

Influenza vaccination can reduce influenza illnesses, doctors’ visits, and missed work and school due to influenza, as well as prevent influenza-related hospitalizations. Children younger than 6 months are at high risk of serious illness, but are too young to be vaccinated. People who care for infants should be vaccinated instead.

Influenza Data Snapshot

While the impact of influenza varies, it can place a burden on community health. The City of Nashua Division of Public Health and Community Services offers influenza vaccination to Nashua school-aged youth. The influenza vaccine is not a mandatory school vaccination in New Hampshire, but offering free, community-based vaccine is essential in order to reduce the burden of disease in our at-risk groups. 

Tetanus, Diphtheria, & Pertussis

Tetanus, Diphtheria, and Pertussis are potentially serious bacterial diseases that can be safely prevented in children and adults with vaccines. Although all three diseases are uncommon in the U.S., vaccination is important to prevent future cases and outbreaks.

Tetanus

Tetanus enters the body through cuts or wounds and causes painful stiffening of the body's muscles. Tetanus can lead to serious health problems, including being unable to open the mouth, having trouble swallowing and breathing, or even death.

Diphtheria

Diptheria affects the mucous membranes of the nose and throat. Diphtheria spreads from person to person through a variety of ways and can lead to difficulty breathing, heart failure, paralysis, or even death. 

Pertussis

Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, spreads from person to person causing uncontrollable, violent coughing making it hard to breathe, eat, or drink. Pertussis can cause serious health problems in infants and young children. 

Vaccination

The best protection from tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis is through vaccination. There are several different types of vaccines that can safety prevent diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis. Vaccination is recommended for children, adolescents, and adults. Adults should receive a Tdap or td booster dose every 10 years, or earlier if they suffer from a severe wound or burn. Adults who have never received Tdap should get it in place of a Td dose.

DTaP 

(diphtheria, tetanus, and acellular pertussis)

given to children

DT 

(diphtheria and tetanus)

given to children up to 7 years

Tdap 

(combined tetanus, diphtheria, and acellular pertussis)

given to adolescents and adults

Td

(tetanus and diphtheria)

given to adolescents and adults

Tetanus, Diphtheria, & Pertussis Data Snapshot

Today, diphtheria and tetanus are at historic low rates in the U.S and New Hampshire. There has also been an overall increasing trend in reported cases of pertussis since the 1980s partially due to increased awareness, improved diagnostic tests, better reporting, more circulation of the bacteria, and waning immunity. In New Hampshire, pertussis cases have decreased 45% from 2014 to 2019. 

Health Equity & Vaccine Preventable Diseases

A person's health can be seriously impacted by their race, ethnicity, gender, income level, education, and other socioeconomic factors. In regards to vaccine preventable diseases...

• Vaccination coverage is significantly lower among non-Hispanic blacks, Hispanics, and non-Hispanic Asians compared with non-Hispanic whites with few exceptions (NCBI).

• African American adults are less likely than non-Hispanic white adults to have received a flu vaccine in the past year or to have ever received the pneumonia vaccine (Office of Minority Health, HHS).

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