Top 10 Things to Know about Immunizations

1.  Why immunize? Vaccines safeguard children and adults from illnesses and death caused by infectious diseases.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) “immunization is one of the most significant public health achievements of the 20th century.”  Without vaccination programs, epidemics of many preventable diseases could return which would result in increased illness, disability and death.

2. Vaccine preventable diseases:

Anthrax Lyme Disease Rubella (German  Measles)
Cervical Cancer

Measles Shingles (Herpes Zoster)
Diphtheria

Meningococcal

Smallpox
Hepatitis A Monkeypox

Tetanus
Hepatitis B

Mumps Tuberculosis
Haemophilus Influenzae type b (Hib) Pertussis (Whooping Cough) Typhoid Fever
Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Pneumococcal Varicella (Chickenpox)
H1N1 Flu (Swine flu)

Poliomyelitis (Polio) Yellow Fever
Influenza (Seasonal flu)

Rabies
Japanese Encephalitis (JE)

Rotavirus

3. Immunization schedule. Click here for view the CDC immunization schedules.

4.  How Immunizations work. A vaccine protects you by preparing your body to fight serious and potentially deadly diseases.  Active immunity occurs when the immune system is exposed to a disease and produces antibodies to that disease.  By introducing a killed or weakened form of the disease organism through a vaccination the body produces the antibodies in preparation for later exposure.

5.  Vaccine side effects. Slight discomfort at the site of the injection is normal.  Depending on the vaccine a slight fever or rash might occur.  A severe allergic reaction to a vaccination should be reported to your physician immediately.  Serious reactions to vaccines are very rare.  The risk of contracting a serious disease from deciding to not vaccinate is far greater than the risk of a serious reaction from a vaccination.  If a reaction is severe get the person to medical treatment immediately.  Ask your doctor or nurse to file a Vaccine Adverse Reporting System (VAERS) form documenting the reaction and the circumstances around the vaccination.  30,000 VAERS reports are filed yearly with 10-15% being classified as serious.

6.  Are vaccines safe? The United States has one of the best vaccine safety programs in the world.  All vaccines as with other medicines in the US are put through rigorous testing by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  Only when the FDA is satisfied with both computerized models and clinical trails will the FDA issue a license for use.

7.  Don’t wait – vaccinate. Vaccine preventable diseases are costly involving physician visits, absence from work for parents, hospitalizations and premature deaths.  Newborn babies are immune to many diseases because they carry over antibodies they received from their mothers.  However this is short lived (1mth – 1year), afterwards babies are vulnerable to diseases that they might not be strong enough to fight off.  Many children died from diseases that are now preventable because of vaccines (whooping cough, measles and polio).

8.  Keep an updated shot record. A vaccination record helps you keep track of your or your child’s vaccinations and allows you to stay on schedule.  An accurate record will help prevent repeating vaccinations.  A shot record should be started when your child receives his/her first vaccination and updated with each shot.  A Personal Health Record (PHR) such a Google Health is very helpful.  This technology can even be downloaded onto a mobile health application such as iTriage and then become a portable shot record which can be reviewed and updated on the go.

9.  Free Vaccinations. Vaccines for Children (VFC) is a federally funded program for children who might not otherwise be vaccinated because of their inability to pay for services.  Children who are eligible for VFC vaccines are entitled to receive pediatric vaccines that are recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.

10.  Where to get more information:

  • CDC Contact Center 1-800-232-4636
  • CDC website on vaccines and immunizations
  • Your practitioner’s office – use iTriageHealth.com to find a physician

34 comments

  1. I just had a tetanus shot. WOW….didn’t hurt a bit, until the second day. Thought my arm was going to fall off. What’s that about?

    Marie W.

  2. oOh i’m not a fan of shots, but they definitely are important to get. That is a good question, why does the tetanus hurt?

  3. I’m like A Hyph not really a fan of shoots, but it’s important. Last year i travelled to africa and i can say it was the best decision to visit my doctor before, he gave me some shots to get immunized from typical african deases.

    • Alicia Verity, MSPH

      I too recently went to Africa. It seemed like an endless number of shots, but I felt very well protected as a result.

  4. Immunization determines one’s strength and life expectancy. H1N1 Swine flu is the new deadly ones. People have to start vaccinating against it.. Is this advisable for new born to vaccinate for swine flu? My request would be, could you please come up with a similar article for pets?

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