Polio no longer stalks children in this country, but in the early 1950s, outbreaks caused more than 15,000 cases of paralysis each year. Until smallpox officially was declared eradicated around the globe in 1980, the devastating disease wiped out about 3 of every 10 people who contracted it. Major epidemics of measles once caused an estimated 2.6 million deaths each year, but between 2000 and 2018, the world witnessed a 73 percent drop in measles deaths worldwide, the World Health Organization estimates.

There is one reason for all of this: vaccines.

Dr. Sara “Sally” H. Goza is the president of the American Academy of Pediatrics.