In January 2023, the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) launched a year-long 50th anniversary celebration as a tribute to 5 decades of education, prevention, and impact. As 2023 comes to a close, we look back at some of the remarkable accomplishments and significant moments in public health history through a round-up of blog posts celebrating the trailblazing efforts of NFID leaders and public health heroes while building momentum to face the challenges of the future.
Imagine a future where no one dies from a vaccine-preventable disease. A future where vaccines do not go unused, antibiotics are not misused, and innovative therapies are accessible to all who need them. A world in which future generations benefit from the lessons learned from outbreaks and pandemics of the past. This is the vision that has been driving NFID for the past 50 years.
Marla Dalton, PE, CAE
NFID Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer
Celebrating 50 Years of Education, Prevention, and Impact: NFID was incorporated on August 23, 1973 as a non-profit corporation because a small group of visionaries believed a national organization was needed to raise awareness about the impact of infectious diseases. In honor of the 50th anniversary, NFID reposted this historical reflection featuring remarks from NFID co-founder Richard J. Duma, MD, PhD accepting the 2015 John P. Utz Leadership Award at the 2015 NFID Awards Gala.
Measles News Round-Up: Why Vaccination Matters: It has been 60 years since the first live virus measles vaccine was licensed for use in the US in 1963. Before a vaccine was available, nearly all US children were infected with measles at some point during childhood. Thanks to an effective vaccination program, measles was declared eliminated from the US in 2000, but cases and outbreaks still occur every year because measles is still commonly transmitted in many parts of the world. With cases reported in 2023 in Kentucky, Ohio, and other parts of the world, concern about measles prompted public health experts to urge parents to make sure their children are up to date on recommended measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccination.
The Triumph of Science: The Incredible Story of Smallpox Eradication: Few public health achievements can compare to the global eradication of smallpox. Smallpox was the first disease for which a vaccine was developed, and international collaboration on the strategic use of smallpox vaccine resulted in the global eradication of this feared infectious disease in 1980. Former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director William H. Foege, MD, MPH, and NFID Past President Walter A. Orenstein, MD, reflect on their first-hand experiences with smallpox eradication in episodes of the NFID podcast, Infectious IDeas.
The Life-Saving Impact of Vaccines for Children: In this guest blog post, NFID Past President Walter A. Orenstein, MD, reflects on the 30th anniversary of the Vaccines for Children (VFC) program, which was established in 1993 during his term as director of the National Immunization Program. VFC benefitted not only children who were covered by the program, but also the country as a whole, since it led to higher levels of vaccination—ultimately resulting in the elimination of measles in the US by 2000. According to CDC estimates, vaccination of children born since the VFC program began (between 1994-2021) will help prevent 472 million illnesses, nearly 30 million hospitalizations, and more than 1 million deaths.
The History behind Universal Flu Vaccination: Each year in the US, millions of individuals get sick, hundreds of thousands are hospitalized, and tens of thousands die from flu and related complications. In this blog post, NFID leaders reflect on the anniversary of the 2010 CDC recommendation of universal influenza (flu) vaccination for everyone age 6 months and older. According to NFID spokesperson William Schaffner, MD, “The universal flu vaccination recommendation was a bold game-changer. It made the protection provided by flu vaccine available to essentially the entire US population, both children and adults—something that no other country had done. Although we have a universal recommendation, universal acceptance of annual influenza vaccination remains far from having been achieved. The challenges of vaccine hesitancy, skepticism, indifference, and opposition remain. The mission of NFID to educate, engage, and reassure remains vital and the need will continue.”
Building Momentum for the Future
Twelve years ago, I began volunteering with NFID and found like-minded passionate individuals and an opportunity to share my perspective as a nurse in this important work. When I say my life’s work as a nurse practitioner in infectious disease fits hand in glove with the mission of NFID to educate, communicate, and inform on how we protect public health, I mean it. I became involved because I didn’t want to see children die from preventable diseases and I remain involved as we work collaboratively towards our shared vision of healthier lives for all …
Patricia (Patsy) A. Stinchfield, RN, MS, CPNP
The NFID 2023 Impact Report highlights NFID accomplishments over the past year. As the NFID 50th anniversary celebration concludes, we acknowledge that none of these successes would have been possible without the generous support of our donors and partners. The lessons learned and partnerships forged in our first 50 years position NFID for even greater success in the future. If you have not yet made a gift to NFID, please consider joining the 1973 Giving Society or making a year-end gift online at www.nfid.org/donate.
From all of us at NFID, thank you for your continued support! We wish you the gift of health this holiday season and throughout the coming year.
To join the conversation and get the latest news on infectious diseases, follow NFID on X (Twitter), like us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram, visit us on LinkedIn, listen and subscribe to the Infectious IDeas podcast, and subscribe to receive future NFID Updates.
Recent measles cases in the US and across the globe have alarmed public health experts and highlight the importance of measles vaccination …
With flu activity on the rise and vaccination rates lagging across the US, NFID is reminding everyone age 6 months and older to get vaccinated against flu
The time to deal with vaccine misinformation is immediately. And the way to deal with it is through building connections and expressing empathy.