Take the Shot or Not? – By: Mary Ellen Pratt, FACHE, CEO
Kassie Roussel - Thursday, August 10, 2017 |
Whether or not to take a vaccine to immunize against a disease can be confusing. Many times messages in the media can be contradictory and give the wrong impression. With so much information available today (and often incorrect information), learning the facts before making health decisions is very important. Here are some of the facts.
Vaccines create immunity without having to become ill with the disease.
The job of our immune system is to protect us from disease germs like viruses or bacteria. The immune system recognizes these intruders and produces antibodies to get rid of them. But our immune system does more than find and destroy these germs, it also remembers them. If the same germs ever enter your body again, antibodies will destroy them before they can make you sick. This is immunity. But there is one problem with it –you must get sick before becoming immune.This problem is solved by vaccines. Vaccines contain the same germs that cause disease but the germs have been either killed, or weakened to the point that they don’t make you sick. When you are vaccinated, the vaccine stimulates your immune system to produce antibodies, exactly like it would if he were exposed to the disease. So you will develop immunity to that disease, but you don’t have to get sick first. This is what makes vaccines such powerful medicine. Unlike most medicines, which treat or cure diseases, vaccines prevent them.
Vaccines work really well.
No medicine is perfect, of course, but most childhood vaccines produce immunity about 90% to 100% of the time and according to the CDC, the flu vaccine reduces the odds of getting the flu by 70% to 90%.
Vaccines are safe.
All vaccines are licensed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and a vaccine must undergo extensive testing to show that it works and that it is safe before the FDA will approve it. The risk from a vaccine is the chance it will cause serious harm. This risk is extremely small.
Vaccines can prevent outbreaks of disease and save lives.
When a critical portion of a community is immunized against a contagious disease, most members of the community are protected against that disease because there is little opportunity for an outbreak. Even those who are not eligible for certain vaccines—such as infants, pregnant women, or immunocompromised individuals—get some protection because the spread of contagious disease is contained. This is known as “community immunity.” The principle of community immunity applies to control of a variety of contagious diseases, including influenza, measles, mumps, rotavirus, and pneumococcal disease.
The CDC has recommended that everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine every season. Help us create community immunity by getting your flu shot this season!
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