This year the United States is on track to see the most cases of measles in more than a decade, despite the fact that the disease was declared eliminated in 2000. In 2010, California had its worst whooping cough outbreak in 50 years. In 2012, Washington state declared a pertussis epidemic so severe, it surpassed the toll of any year since the 1940s, before a vaccine went into wide use.
The reason we're seeing a resurgence of diseases once believed to be eradicated by science is largely thanks to the anti-vaccination movement. When vaccination rates drop, everyone becomes more vulnerable to infectious diseases. In the 200 years since vaccines were first developed, over a dozen of what used to be the most common infections have been virtually eliminated -- but of course, vaccines only protect our heath when they're taken.
Illustrating this point in a deliberately provocative way is a new video patterned after pharmaceutical ads. The tagline: "Vaccines. And now my kids don't die."