A Look Back at the Pandemics that Afflicted the United States

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The World Health Organization has classified the novel coronavirus as a pandemic. Vantis Life decided to go back through history and take a look back at some of the worst pandemics in the United States to see their impact on our great nation and the progress that has been made to help combat, and in some cases, eliminate these deadly viruses.


Smallpox started in the northeast in 1633.  By end of 1634, it had killed 70% of the Native American population. In 1721, 844 out of 5,889 Boston residents who had smallpox did not survive.

It wasn’t until 1770 that a vaccine was developed by Edward Jenner that made people immune to the disease.  There has not been a smallpox case in the United States since 1949.

Spanish Flu

In 1918, a strain of the flu virus known as “Spanish Flu” infected 500 million people worldwide and took the lives of 20-50 million people including 675,000 in the United States.

The Spanish Flu came to an end by 1919 largely due to the fact that those infected either died or became immune to the virus.  Thanks to today’s science, there is a vaccine to help combat the flu, but because it mutates every year, you must get the vaccine yearly to keep it effective.


Polio is a disease that attacks the nervous system and can cause paralysis.  In 1952 the virus peaked, there were 57,628 cases reported and 3,145 deaths.

A vaccine was developed by Dr. Jonas Salk three years later and new polio cases dropped to 910 by 1962.  The United States has been Polio free since 1979.


HIV/AIDS was first discovered in 1981.  It essentially destroys your immune system leaving your body unable to fight off infections.  To date about 1.2 million people have died due to complications relating to HIV/AIDS.

There currently is no cure for HIV/AIDS, however thanks to new treatments, life expectancy rates have increased dramatically allowing people with HIV to live long, healthy and productive lives.

Swine Flu/H1N1

In 2009 the United States was introduced to the Swine Flu. Between April 2009 and April 2010, there were 60.8 million cases reported and 12,469 people died.   People still get infected with the Swine Flu/H1N1 every year, just not nearly as many due to flu vaccinations.

If nothing else, history teaches us that even though we cannot predict or know what the next pandemic will be, it’s bound to happen again.  The best thing any of us can do, is learn from each one so that we are all better prepared for the future.

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At Vantis Life, it’s our job to make sure families have life insurance in place so they are financially prepared should an unexpected death occur.  That’s why we offer a free no-obligation quote either online or by consulting with one of our agents over the phone. We invite you to visit our website to learn more about specific products, get advice, and most importantly, begin the process of protecting your family.


Our content is created for educational purposes only. This material is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for tax, legal, or investment advice. Vantis Life encourages individuals to seek advice from their own investment or tax advisor or legal counsel.