- Immunizations Overview
- Immunizations for Kids
- Immunizations for Teens
- Immunizations for Adults
- Immunizations for Special Situations (Travel)
Vaccines are one of the most important ways to protect yourself and your family against some infectious diseases. They also create immunity, a defense against future infection. Vaccines are important in the defense against diseases , like polio, measles, mumps, rubella, whooping cough, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and more.
But vaccines don’t just help you. If you’re not vaccinated, you could make other sick, too.
Compare the risks
Although vaccines are safe, there are some possible risks. Most side effects from vaccines are mild. You may feel sore or have swelling where you got the shot, or you may get a mild fever. Serious side effects are rare.
Avoiding vaccines is not a risk-free decision. When you compare the risks of a vaccine with the risks of the disease it prevents, vaccines are safer.
How Vaccines Work
Your immune system defends you from bacteria, viruses, or other substance that can make you sick. Vaccines use your body’s immune system to protect you. Here’s how:
When a foreign organism first enters your body, your immune system makes antibodies to fight it.
These organisms have a head start. By the time your body has made enough antibodies to fight the “invaders,” you may have already gotten sick from the disease they produce.
Vaccines contain modified or inactivated organisms that are dead or weakened, so that they won’t make you ill from the disease they produce. When you get a vaccine, your immune system still reacts as though it is being invaded. Vaccines make the immune system produce antibodies.
So, in the future, if the same foreign organisms, which you were vaccinated for, infect you again, your immune system is prepared to fight them off.
In some cases, the protection from vaccines can wear off over time. That’s why you need booster shots for some vaccines. The boosters strengthen your immune response.
Sometimes vaccines for different diseases are given together in one shot. These are called combination vaccines. They work the same way as the individual vaccines. Combination vaccines include:
DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough)
MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella)
Diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, hepatitis B, and polio
Diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, and Hib (Haemophilus influenza type b)
Hepatitis A and hepatitis B
Hib and hepatitis B
* Not all combination vaccines are approved for all age groups.
Benefits of combination vaccines
Combination vaccines are good news for kids and parents. They work just as well as individual vaccine shots. And combination vaccines reduce the number of shots a person needs. That may reduce the pain and discomfort of having multiple shots.
Also when combination vaccines are used, it may mean fewer medical appointments. That can mean less chances to skip them – and a vaccination. Missed vaccinations put you, and the people around you, at risk.
Who Shouldn’t Get Vaccines?
There are some cases in which people should not get vaccines:
Sometimes people, who have more than a mild illness, should not get a vaccine until they’re feeling better.
People, who have had a severe, life-threatening reaction to a vaccine, should not get the same shot again.
People with the following conditions should check with their doctor before getting the MMR, chickenpox, yellow fever, and live flu vaccinations:
– Those who have had a recent blood transfusion or treatment with immune (gamma) globulin
– Those with long-term illnesses
– Those with a weakened or suppressed immune system
– Pregnant women
As you can see, there’s a lot to consider. Talk to your doctor and he or she will help you decide what you need to protect your health.
Vaccines can help prevent a long list of diseases, including:
- Chickenpox (varicella)
- Flu (influenza)
- German measles (rubella)
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Hib (haemophilus influenza, type b)
- Pneumococcal disease (streptococcus pneumonia)
- Meningococcal disease
- Lockjaw (tetanus)
- Whooping cough (pertussis)
- Yellow fever