Only vaccines wiped out smallpox, the terrible disease that previously killed so many millions of people every year.
Only vaccines have more recently wiped out polio — that horrible, crippling, maiming, killing disease from my own childhood that put thousands of Americans in “iron lungs” because they couldn’t even breathe — from the United States and most of the rest of the world. (Only fear of the vaccinations has permitted polio to still exist in about half-a-dozen third-world countries. And, of course, fear of the vaccines permits the disease to spread back into the rest of the world from time to time. So, for now, we still have to vaccinate against a disease that should have been extinct for more than a decade.)
Some other diseases — like flu, for example — we’ll probably never be able to eradicate. But annual flu vaccines can prevent most of the 26,000 flu-related deaths that occur in the United States alone every year.
I know I’ve said it before, but it’s important. Get your vaccines.