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PITTSBURGH — Vaccines have prevented an estimated 100 million cases of serious childhood contagious diseases in the nearly 90 years since the vaccine for pertussis, or whooping cough, became available, according to a new study.
The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health and published in the New England Journal of Medicine, examined weekly surveillance reports for reportable diseases going back to 1888. The researchers focused on eight vaccine-preventable diseases: smallpox, polio, measles, rubella, mumps, hepatitis A, diphtheria and pertussis, overlaying public health data on disease outbreaks on the years that vaccines received regulatory approval and comparing the results from before and after their availability.
The researchers also noted, however, that despite the availability of a pertussis vaccine since the 1920s, the United States last year had its largest pertussis epidemic since 1959, and outbreaks of measles, mumps and rubella have reoccurred since the early 1980s.