Vaccines can prevent several diseases and serious conditions by strengthening the body’s defense mechanisms via the immune system against them.
Currently, vaccines are widely used against the following infectious diseases.
Tuberculosis (TB) is a bacterial infection which spreads through tiny droplets released into the air via coughs or sneezes of the infected individual. Most of the time it causes a pulmonary disease, however it may affect the bones, the joints, the kidneys or even the meninges. If early recognized, it can be cured with adequate medications.
Diphtheria is a bacterial infection which – beside affecting the respiratory system – might infect the skin, the nervous and the circulatory system. In severe cases it might even lead to death.
Whooping cough (pertussis) is the bacterial infection of the respiratory tract. It spreads easily, mainly via small droplets released into the air (by coughing or sneezing). One of the most characteristic symptoms are the uncontrollable, violent coughing attacks.
Tetanus (lockjaw) is a rare and severe condition. The pathogen usually gets into the body via soil and/or rust-contaminated wounds. The condition results not from the bacteria itself, but the toxin it produces, which causes painful muscle spasms. It develops almost only in unvaccinated or improperly vaccinated individuals.
Infantile paralysis (poliomyelitis, polio)
Poliomyelitis (polio) is a severe, viral infectious disease which had been common worldwide and in Hungary, too. Nowadays, due to the international vaccine policy, it is a rare disease. Most infected individuals are asymptomatic, but in certain individuals transient or permanent paralysis may develop. In Hungary, its prevalence has greatly decreased since the vaccination campaign introduces in 1950. Since currently, there is still no treatment available for poliomyelitis, therefore children’s vaccination is of utmost importance.
Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib) is a bacteria which causes bacterial infections presenting in differing forms (e.g. pneumonia or arthritis), especially in younger children. Due to vaccination, its prevalence is low in Hungary.
Measles, rubeola (ten-day measles, morbilli)
Measles (rubeola) is a viral infectious disease. Its symptoms include high fever, rashes, coughing, etc.. Sometimes severe neurological symptoms also occur. As a result of vaccination, its prevalence is low in Hungary.
Mumps (parotitis epidemica) is a rare viral infection which causes the salivary glands under the ears to swell. The compulsory vaccine protects against the possible complications of the infection which might occur in adulthood (e.g. infertility).
German-measles (three-day measles, rubella)
German-measles is a rare, viral infectious disease which causes patchy rashes. It usually resolves without treatment, but it might have severe, destroying effects on the fetus during pregnancy.
Chicken pox (varicella) is one of the most frequent infectious disease of children that prevails in the autumn and winter months. Its prevalence is the highest in closed communities of children between the ages of 3 and 10. It is spread by little droplets of saliva released into the air, but it can also be spread by touching objects used by an infected person. It can lead to severe complications (e.g. pneumonia), therefore vaccination is recommended, and has been compulsory for children since the fall of 2019.
Hepatitis B infection spreads by blood and body fluids and results in the inflammation of the liver and might even cause malignant liver cancer. In adults, hepatitis often has mild symptoms, or it can be even asymptomatic and might resolve within a few months without treatment. In children, however, it can persist for years, causing severe liver damage in certain cases. In order to prevent severe complications, vaccination is compulsory for seven-grade students.
Its prevalence in Hungary is low compared to that of other parts of the world, however certain communities (e.g. intravenous drug users or promiscuous individuals) are at greater risk of getting infected. For these groups vaccination is especially recommended.
Hepatitis A infection can cause the inflammation of the liver. The pathogen spreads with the stool of infected individuals. It is rare in Hungary, however local, smaller epidemics might occur in regions where people drink from dug wells. In such cases, the infection is caused by the stool-contaminated water. It might also occur in those who travel to endemic geographic regions or among homosexuals. Optional vaccines are available to prevent the disease.
Human papillomavirus infection
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the name of a group of viruses. In most people the infection is symptom-free, however certain types of the virus can cause genital warts, while high risk type HPVs can cause cancerous diseases (e.g. cervical cancer, oropharyngeal cancer, anal cancer) in both women and men.
Meningococcus meningitis (Meningococcus infection) is the bacterial infection of the membranes (meninges) around the brain and the spinal cord. Most of the cases occur in infants, younger children, teenagers and young adults. If recognized late, it can lead to a life-threatening condition, therefore vaccination of small children is highly recommended.
Tick-borne encephalitis is the viral infection of the central nervous system which is spread by tick-bites. There is an optional vaccine available to prevent the disease.
Rabies is a rare, but very severe infection of the brain and the nerves. It is usually spread into the body by wounds caused by infected animals. Rabies is prevalent worldwide with especially high occurrence in Asia, Africa, Central- and Southern-America.
Due to animal-vaccination programs in Hungary, its prevalence is very low in the country, the last human infection was reported in the 1990s.
Typhoid fever (typhus)
Typhoid fever is a bacterial infection, caused by the toxins produced by a bacterium, called Salmonella typhi. It might affect several organs and might lead to severe, even lethal complications without immediate treatment. The infection is spread by stool and/or urine, or via stool/urine-contaminated water and food.
In infants and young children, most of diarrhea and vomiting infections are caused by rotaviruses. By the age of 3-5, almost every child has been through the infection. The disease is especially dangerous in 3-36-months-old children, in whom the rapid loss of body fluids and significant electrolyte imbalance may lead to dehydration.
Yellow fever is a mosquito-spread, severe viral infection that presents in Africa, Central- and Southern-America and in the Caribbeans. Travelers entering these endemic regions must get vaccinated to prevent the infection.
Related article: Vaccine types