It's National Immunization Month: How Much Do You Know About Vaccination?

It's National Immunization Month: How Much Do You Know About Vaccination?
Are you up to date with your vaccines? Immunizations aren’t just for children. In fact, the protection that some childhood vaccines offer wear off over time. Because of your age, health condition, lifestyle, profession, travel and other factors, you may also be at risk for certain diseases that can be prevented with immunization. It’s an easy way to protect your health! Support community immunity and arm your citizens with the information they need to be smart about immunization.

How do immunizations work?

Your body has a natural immunity when you get sick. Invading germs are attacked by antibodies in your immune system, and should the same germs invade again, antibodies will recognize them and fight them off to prevent you from getting sick. However, serious and deadly diseases pose a grave threat, and vaccines are a safer way to protect you. Vaccines cause the body to produce antibodies, which protect the body against later infection by a particular agent. Keep in mind that immunizations are not available for many diseases, and not all vaccines work the same way. The smallpox vaccine, for example, provides almost immediate immunity and can be beneficial even if someone is vaccinated a few days after exposure. Other vaccines, like the anthrax vaccine, may require several doses over time before someone builds up immunity.

Are vaccines safe?

One of the most widely debated issues around immunization is vaccine safety. Before a certain vaccine is recommended, it goes through years of lab testing and clinical trials. Batches of vaccines are tested for quality and safety, even after licensing and approval by the FDA and CDC, and even after they are recommended to the public. Most side-effects after vaccination are mild, and include:
  • Pain, swelling or redness around the vaccination site.
  • Mild fever.
  • Headache.
  • Chills.
  • Fatigue.
  • Muscle and joint aches.
In extremely rare cases (e.g., one or two vaccinated people out of a million), severe allergic reactions are possible. Concerned about what a certain vaccine contains? Check out for some answers to a list of common questions about the ingredients found in vaccines, or read up on Vaccine Information Statements (VISs) online provided by the CDC.

So what immunizations do you need?

As an adult, there are immunizations you can get for protection against a variety of diseases, such as seasonal influenza (flu), shingles, tetanus, diphtheria and human papillomavirus among others. Getting vaccinated as an adult is particularly important if you have a chronic health condition or a weakened immune system. To find out what vaccines you might need, ask your doctor. Depending on your health and various other factors, you may not be eligible for certain vaccines. Bring your vaccination record with you, and don’t hesitate to ask questions. Be sure to tell your doctor if you have any allergies, if you’re sick, if you’ve had a serious reaction to a past vaccine and if you are pregnant or planning on being pregnant. For more on what vaccines you might need, take the CDC’s online quiz, and view easy-to-read recommended vaccines according to age by consulting the CDC’s online schedules. For more information on various Health and Wellness products available to purchase for your community, browse the QuickSeries® library of guides, including: Preparing for Influenza.