Each year, vaccine-preventable diseases cause millions of illnesses and deaths worldwide. Despite the fact that some of these diseases are not prevalent everywhere in the world, most of them are spread from person to person, so international travel affords the opportunity for diseases to spread quickly and widely. In fact, as it applies to the spread of diseases, the world is quite small, making communication and monitoring of diseases as well as the widespread use of vaccines of the utmost importance. Well-planned immunization programs and appropriate schedules are among the tools commonly used to control the spread of disease.
Despite the importance of widespread vaccine use throughout the world, immunization coverage is quite variable. Disparities result from inequity of resources and opportunities, particularly in the developing world as well as from personal beliefs and vaccine safety concerns.
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Updated: January 2013
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