Our ability to vaccinate against some of the most dangerous diseases has prevented millions of deaths. They’re part of our routine medical care, but there are still many questions that people have about them:
What Are Vaccines?
Vaccines are preventative treatments. They are based on the disease that they are designed to treat, but teach the body how to fight the disease without experiencing symptoms.
How Do They Work?
Vaccines take advantage of the body’s ability to learn from its exposure to different illnesses, creating an immune response that will help to prevent contracting the disease again. The agent in vaccines helps to train the immune system to react to that specific disease, without having to actually get sick.
Vaccines are typically given through injections. Without using a shot to get the vaccine to the muscle, it might not work correctly, quickly, or at all.
Are They Safe?
Vaccines, like all standard medical procedures, are very carefully studied and must pass rigorous testing before they are even considered for public use. They are very safe and an important, beneficial part of medical care.
What you can expect from a routine vaccine includes soreness or irritation at the injection site, experiencing a mild fever, headache, or fatigue. On very rare occasions (less than 1 for every million vaccines(1)), people have more severe effects if they have an unexpected allergic reaction. While serious, this is easily treated with immediate medical care.
The risks of vaccines are minor, but the rewards are vital for the health of yourself and others.
Why Are Vaccines Important?
With the creation of the first vaccines, we started to get rid of some of our most dangerous diseases. While we are lucky that diseases like polio, mumps, and smallpox are nearly extinct today, it can also lead us to forget just how terrifying these illnesses are. Vaccinations keep people safe from them.
Why Vaccinate for Diseases that Aren’t Common Anymore?
While vaccines have almost made some dangerous diseases a memory, they aren’t extinct yet. As long as these diseases exist, vaccines are essential to keep each of us protected. Herd immunity is particularly important to protect those people around us that can’t get vaccinated – for example, the very young, the very old, immunocompromised people, or those with some allergies.
When more people make the responsible choice to get vaccinated, they not only protect themselves but vulnerable people around them, as well. Since vaccinated people won’t get sick with these illnesses, they also won’t risk exposing someone that could.
Why Do I Need A Flu Shot Every Year?
While many other vaccines are good for a lifetime, flu shots are given annually. This is because the flu virus is very good at mutating quickly. Each year’s flu is so different enough from the previous year’s virus that our earlier vaccines are no longer useful.
Not only does the flu vaccine drastically decrease your chances of getting sick with the flu, but the same concept of herd immunity can help to protect those around you that are vulnerable but can’t get vaccinated.
As a topic of such intense debate, getting the right information on vaccines is essential for the health of you, your family, and your community. Although they are a safe procedure, speaking with your local healthcare professionals is a great way to discuss your concerns and learn more about vaccines.
“Vaccine Side Effects”. Nhs.Uk, 2018, https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/reporting-side-effects/.