Centers for Disease Control


ANNCR: The Centers for Disease Control –On Today’s Congressional Moment

Congress has been active in vaccination programs for children since the 1940s. In 1946, Congress created the Communicable Disease Center (CDC, which would become the Centers for Disease Control) as a new component of the U.S. Public Health Service. The new center developed out of the Office of Malaria Control in War Areas… an agency established in 1942 to curb the spread of malaria around military training bases in the southeastern U.S. during World War II.

From its origins in wartime malaria control, the CDC has now grown to become the nation's leading public health agency.

The CDC monitors the supply of vaccines to children and helps states and localities educate parents about the need for vaccinations. Since the 1950s, the incidence of most childhood diseases has fallen by 95% or more. The number of polio cases dropped from 15,000 a year in the 1950s to zero today. The CDC also played a key role in one of the greatest triumphs of public health: the eradication of smallpox.

Through congressional support, the work of the CDC extends beyond vaccination programs. Today it has a role in homeland defense… preparing the nation for a possible biological attack by stockpiling vaccines and monitoring disease outbreaks.

STANDARD CLOSING: This is Lee Hamilton. Congressional decisions impact all our lives. To find out more about how Congress works, or to get involved in your government, visit the Center On Congress website at