Did you know before vaccines, or immunizations, were introduced, people gained immunity only by actually getting a disease and then – here’s the tricky part– surviving it? August is National Immunization Awareness Month, which means it’s the perfect time to talk with your physician about staying up to date on vaccinations.
How Do Vaccines Work?
Germs enter your body and your body combats them by creating substances with the help of your immune system. Should the same germ ever return, your immune system is well-equipped to fight it again. Vaccinations can help enhance your body’s defenses by introducing potential threats to your immune system. Vaccines contain a safe, effective and small amount of viruses or bacteria that have been killed or weakened. For a healthy person, the vaccine prompts the immune system to react and therefore build immunity to prevent infection by that same virus or bacteria.
Since being introduced, vaccinations have prevented outbreaks of once common infectious diseases like measles, mumps and whooping cough and nearly eradicated other diseases like polio and smallpox. Between two and three million deaths are prevented annually from vaccination.
Vaccinations are vital because they protect us from serious diseases and prevent the spread of those diseases to others. When receiving these shots, they may be slightly painful, but the diseases they can prevent are a lot worse, and some are even life-threatening.
Most people think vaccinations are only for children, but adults need them, too. You don’t have to make any major lifestyle change for vaccines. In fact, they can be one of the most cost-effective health investments you make. The goal of vaccination is to prevent disease, and it’s far simpler and more cost-effective to prevent a disease than it is to treat it.
Some vaccines need to be given only once. However, other vaccines require updates or boosters to maintain successful immunization and continued protection against disease. If you were vaccinated as a child, you may be due for booster shots as an adult.
Check out the CDC’s immunization schedules at www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules to stay current on vaccinations at every age. And make sure this a healthy and happy year for you and your family!
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