Importance of VaccinationsLast updated: Apr 22, 2019
We all have a public health commitment to our communities to protect each other and each other’s children by vaccinating our own family members.
Importance of Vaccinations:
- Vaccinations protect children and adults from serious illness
- People that are not vaccinated could easily get a disease from a traveler or while traveling themselves
- Outbreaks of preventable diseases occur when children are not vaccinated
- Vaccination is safe and effective. All vaccines undergo long and careful review by scientists, doctors, and the federal government to make sure they are safe
- Vaccination protects others, including family members, friends, and grandparents
- If children aren’t vaccinated, they can spread disease to other children who are too young to be vaccinated or to people with weakened immune systems, such as transplant recipients and people with cancer
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT VACCINATIONS:
Vaccinations protect you and your child against serious diseases by stimulating the immune system to create antibodies against certain bacteria or viruses.
What diseases do vaccines protect against?
Immunizing your baby with vaccines protects against serious diseases like measles, mumps, rubella, whooping cough, polio, tetanus, rotavirus, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, chickenpox, influenza, and more.
I don’t know anybody who has had these diseases. Why does my baby need these vaccines?
While a few of these diseases have virtually disappeared because of vaccination, outbreaks of measles and whooping cough still occur in the U.S. and even more recently here in the Pacific Northwest. Even if some diseases do completely disappear in the U.S., they are common in other parts of the world and are just a plane ride away. If we stop vaccinating against these diseases, many more people will become infected. Vaccinating your child will keep him or her safe.
Are there better ways to protect my baby against these diseases?
No. Breastfeeding offers temporary immunity against some minor infections like colds, but it is not an effective means of protecting a child from the specific diseases prevented by vaccines. Likewise, vitamins won’t protect against the bacteria and viruses that cause these serious diseases. Chiropractic remedies, naturopathy, and homeopathy are totally ineffective in preventing vaccine-preventable diseases.
Are vaccines safe?
Vaccines are among the safest medical products available, and scientists are working to make sure they are made even safer. Every vaccine undergoes extensive testing before being licensed, and vaccine safety continues to be monitored as long as a vaccine is in use.
Most side effects from vaccination are minor, such as soreness where the injection was given or a low-grade fever. These side effects do not last long and are treatable.
Serious reactions are very rare. The tiny risk of a serious reaction from a vaccination must be weighed against the very real risk of getting a dangerous vaccine-preventable disease or suffering complications from it.
What if my baby has a cold or fever, or is taking antibiotics? Can he or she still get vaccinated?
Yes. Your child can still get vaccinated if he or she has a mild illness, a low-grade fever, or is taking antibiotics. Talk with your child’s health care provider if you have questions.
How many times do I need to bring my baby in for vaccinations?
At least five visits are needed before age two, but the visits can be timed to coincide with well-child check-ups. Your baby should get the first vaccine (hepatitis B) at birth, while still in the hospital. Multiple visits during the first two years are necessary because there are 14 diseases your baby can be protected against, and most require two or more doses of vaccine for the best protection.
How do I know when to take my baby in for vaccinations?
For infants most vaccinations are given on a 2, 4, and 6 month schedule. If you are not sure, call your health care provider’s office to find out when your child should return for vaccinations. Doses cannot be given too close together or immunity doesn’t have time to build up. On the other hand, you don’t want to delay your child’s vaccinations and get behind schedule because during this time, your child remains unprotected against these serious diseases.
What if I miss an appointment? Does my baby have to start the vaccines all over again?
No. If your baby misses some doses, it’s not necessary to start over. Your provider will continue from where he or she left off.
How do I keep track of my baby’s vaccinations?
In many medical practices, your child’s immunization record is entered into an electronic record-keeping system. It’s important that you keep home records too, so be sure to ask for a personal record card or a printed copy of your child’s vaccinations. If you don’t receive it, be sure to ask. Bring your copy of the record to all medical appointments. Whenever your child receives a vaccine, make sure your copy gets updated. Your child will benefit by having an accurate vaccination record throughout his or her life.
What if I can’t afford to get my child vaccinated?
Your child’s health depends on timely vaccinations. Vaccinations are free or low cost for children when families can’t afford them through the Vaccines for Children (VFC) program. Call your health care provider or local/state health department to find out where to go for affordable vaccinations. You can find a contact for your state’s VFC program on your state’s website. A listing of state immunization program websites is available at www.vaccineinformation.org/state-immunization-programs/.
Why is it important that all children get vaccinated?
Unvaccinated children can spread the disease to other children, even those who have been vaccinated since no vaccine is 100% protective.
In the U.S., vaccinations have decreased most vaccine-preventable childhood diseases by more than 95 percent. Vaccines have minimized or eliminated outbreaks of certain diseases that were once lethal to large numbers of people, including measles and polio in the U.S. and smallpox worldwide. But because the bacteria and viruses that cause diseases still exist, the public health gains achieved through vaccines can only be maintained by ensuring that vaccination rates remain high enough to prevent outbreaks.
Vaccines are effective not only because they protect individuals who have been vaccinated but also because they confer a broader protection for communities by establishing “community immunity.” When a sufficiently high proportion of a population is vaccinated against infectious diseases, the entire population can obtain protection.
Community immunity is critical for protecting the health of many groups of people who are especially vulnerable to communicable diseases: those who cannot be vaccinated, either because they are too young or because a medical condition makes vaccination too risky.
I thought vaccines were just for babies, do adults really need to get vaccinated?
Vaccination is as important for adults as it is for children, and yet many adults are not optimally vaccinated. Adults need vaccines because vaccine immunity (protection) may have diminished over time and a person will need a booster shot to enhance protection. For some diseases like whooping cough, adults who are vaccinated prevent the spread of disease and in turn protect children. There are also vaccines, such as the shingles vaccine, that protect against diseases/conditions that develop in adults.
Where can adults get vaccinated?
Check with your clinic to see if they administer vaccines. Additionally, your local health department or local hospital may administer influenza, pneumococcal, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and Tdap vaccines. Many pharmacies offer these and other immunizations. Clinics may also be available in shopping malls, grocery stores, senior centers, and other community settings.
I’m an adult, how do I pay for vaccines?
Out-of-pocket immunization costs may vary depending on your insurance coverage. Check with your Summit Medical Group (SMG) provider and your health insurance plan to determine your costs. For Medicare beneficiaries, both influenza and pneumococcal vaccinations are paid for by Medicare Part B if your health care provider accepts the Medicare-approved payment. Shingles vaccine is covered under Medicare Part D.
Do vaccines have side effects?
Vaccines are among the safest medicines available. Some common side effects are a sore arm or fever. There is a very small risk that a serious problem could occur after getting a vaccine. However, the potential risks from the diseases vaccines prevent are much greater than the potential risks associated with the vaccines themselves.
I’m traveling abroad, what vaccinations do I need?
Contact your SMG provider as early as possible to find out which immunizations you may need. Vaccines against certain diseases, such as hepatitis A, hepatitis B, yellow fever, and typhoid fever, are recommended for different countries. The time required to receive all immunizations will depend on whether you need one shot or a series of shots. You can also visit the CDC’s Travelers’ Health Website for up-to-date information on immunization recommendations for international travelers.
What do I do if I think you’ve been exposed to a disease?
Remember all diseases are contagious, whether they are viral or bacterial, and you could give it to someone in a waiting room. It’s important to tell your SMG provider that you suspect you may have a disease and what your symptoms are before you arrive at an appointment. They will give you instructions for what to do so that you don’t spread the disease.