One of the greatest public health victories of the last century was
the discovery of safe and effective vaccines. Millions of lives have been
saved and millions more people have been freed from the threat of killer diseases,
including smallpox, polio, and measles.
Routine immunization saves more lives for the money spent than almost
any other health intervention and gives some of the world's poorest and most
vulnerable children a real chance in life.
The greatest triumph of immunization was the eradication of smallpox
in 1977. An astounding 3 million lives per year have been saved through this
first-ever eradication of a disease (see p 2533 in the printed journal).
Brundtland GH. State of the World's Vaccines and Immunizations. JAMA. 2002;288(20):2532. doi:10.1001/jama.288.20.2532