Vaccines Keep You and Your Community Healthy
Measles, mumps, whooping cough, diphtheria, tetanus, rubella and polio. These dangerous diseases, among others, used to be common. Now, thanks to advances in medicine, they can be prevented with vaccinations. Vaccines have greatly reduced — and in some cases eliminated — the spread of these diseases and have saved millions of lives around the world.
How Vaccines Work
Vaccines allow our immune systems to protect us from serious illnesses without making us sick. A vaccine contains a small amount of weak or dead germs. When you receive a vaccine, your immune system responds to those germs by releasing antibodies to attack them. Your immune system will remember the germ if you encounter it again and can quickly fight it off. Vaccines are our best defense against these infectious diseases.
Perhaps surprisingly, if you get vaccinated, it helps protect the health of everyone in our community. Some babies and children are too young to be vaccinated. Some people can’t receive vaccines for medical reasons, such as severe allergies or a weakened immune system. To help keep them safe, it is important that you and your children who can be vaccinated are fully immunized. This helps prevent the spread of disease through what is called herd immunity, or community immunity. When enough people are vaccinated, the germs can’t spread as easily from person to person. This protects the health of the entire community.
Babies and children are at a high risk for developing complications from serious diseases. Vaccination is a safe and effective way to protect them. The childhood vaccination schedule recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) protects children from 14 different diseases by the age of 2. Talk to your child’s doctor about vaccines for your child.
The flu shot is another vaccine that can help keep you healthy. The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older get a flu shot before every flu season. Some people who get the flu only experience mild illness for a couple of weeks. For others, the flu can cause serious complications resulting in hospitalization or even death. People who are more likely to have flu-related complications include adults 65 and older, young children, pregnant women and people with chronic health problems including asthma, heart disease, diabetes, HIV/AIDs and cancer.
While the flu vaccine can help protect you from the flu, it is still possible for you to get sick. But, according to the CDC, the flu vaccine has been shown to reduce the severity of symptoms in those who received the vaccine but still got sick. Talk to your doctor about the right flu vaccine for you.
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