By Dr. Brian Yablon, Epidemiologist, AK Division of Public Health. Designed to help the body create immune memory to fight off disease-causing microorganisms, vaccines prevent myriad diseases--influenza, whooping cough, mumps, measles, hepatitis, polio, and others many of us have never seen firsthand. The World Health Organization estimates that vaccination saves between 2 and 3 million lives every year, and prevents many more illnesses and long-term disabilities. But keeping vaccination rates high requires sustained commitment, coordination of resources, and maintaining demand for vaccines among parents in the community. Gaps in vaccination coverage put everyone at risk of infectious diseases, especially the most vulnerable. Dr. Yablon will discuss these issues, walk us through some basic vaccine science and explain why routine childhood vaccination is worth more than its weight in gold.