Why You Shouldn’t Skip Recommended Vaccines
Vaccinations protect you from serious diseases – and here’s why you need them.
Following recommended vaccination schedules is a simple way to avoid the potentially life-changing effects of many serious diseases. Although concerns about side effects may tempt you to skip a vaccine or to not vaccinate your children, vaccines have been shown to be safe and effective for most people.
Before vaccines were invented, many people died or developed serious health complications after becoming ill with polio, measles, mumps, whooping cough, tetanus and other illnesses. Fortunately, researchers discovered that giving people a vaccine that contained a tiny amount of a killed or inactivated virus prevented people from becoming sick when exposed to a disease.
Vaccines prompt your body to produce antibodies, proteins that recognize and attack specific germs. Once the germs enter your body, the antibodies destroy them. Americans were thrilled when vaccines were first introduced. In fact, people lined up for blocks to receive polio vaccinations in the 1950s.
Will vaccinations cause side effects?
Vaccines have helped eliminate or reduce diseases for decades. Minor side effects can occur with any type of vaccine and aren’t usually a cause for concern. In fact, they may be a sign that your body is producing antibodies. It is extremely rare for someone to have a serious reaction to an approved vaccination in the U.S.
Why should people get vaccinated?
Vaccinations not only protect you, but can also stop diseases from spreading throughout your community. When enough people are vaccinated against a particular disease, it may even be possible to completely eliminate the disease. Smallpox, a disease that once killed millions of people, was eliminated worldwide thanks to an effective vaccine.
Getting vaccinated also protects people who can’t receive vaccines, including infants who aren’t yet old enough for immunizations and people who have certain medical conditions. If you’re vaccinated, you can’t spread a disease to unvaccinated people in most cases.
What vaccinations are recommended for children?
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends these vaccines for children:
- Measles, mumps and rubella
- Haemophilus Influenzae type B
- Diptheria, tetanus and pertussis
- Hepatitis A and B
- Pneumococcal conjugate
- Meningococcal conjugate
- Meningococcal B
- Human papillomavirus
Suggested vaccine schedules are based on when vaccinations will generate the best immune system response in babies, children and adolescents.
What about vaccinations for adults?
Although most vaccinations are given to children, you can receive immunizations at any age. According to Jane Kong MD, a family medicine physician at PIH Health, “even if you’re an adult who never received one or more recommended vaccines, it’s not too late to get them. For some vaccines, protection can fade decades after you received them. You can ask your doctor to check antibody levels for certain diseases if appropriate, and if your immunity has decreased you can schedule revaccination as needed”
Adults should also plan to get an annual flu vaccine. Depending on your age, you may also benefit from vaccines that prevent illnesses more common in older people, such as shingles and pneumonia. And as new illnesses arise, such as COVID-19, there may be other vaccinations recommended. For now, it’s strongly recommended that you get a COVID-19 vaccine if you haven’t already done so. Follow future guidance if booster shots are recommended at a later date.
To learn more about vaccine schedules and family medicine at PIH Health, visit PIHHealth.org/FM. If you are looking for a family medicine physician in or near your area, visit PIHHealth.org/find-a-doctor.
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