August is recognized as National Immunization Awareness Month to highlight the importance that every one -- of all ages -- to be up to date with all recommended vaccinations. With back to school on the horizon, it’s a good time to promote childhood immunizations, advise college students to be current on immunizations before they move into dormitories, and encourage everyone to get a flu shot. Vaccinations are very important for preventing the spread of serious diseases. Discuss with your doctor what vaccinations you should have.
The National Foundation for Infectious Diseases offers the following reasons to be vaccinated:
- Vaccine-preventable diseases haven’t gone away. The viruses and bacteria that cause illness and death still exist and can be passed on to people not protected by vaccines. In a time when people can travel across the globe in just one day, it’s not hard to see just how easily diseases can travel too.
- Vaccines will help keep you healthy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends vaccinations from birth through adulthood to provide a lifetime of protection against many diseases and infections, such as influenza, pneumococcal disease, human papillomavirus, and hepatitis A and B. If not vaccinated as recommended, you are needlessly vulnerable to illness.
- Vaccines are as important to your overall health as diet and exercise. Like eating right, exercising, and getting regular screenings for diseases such as colon and breast cancer, vaccines can also play a vital role in keeping you healthy. Vaccines are a convenient and safe preventive care measures.
- Vaccines are safe and effective. Vaccines are among the safest medical products available and can prevent the suffering and costs associated with infectious diseases. The potential risks associated with the diseases that vaccines prevent are much greater than the potential risks from the vaccines themselves.
- Vaccines won’t give you the disease they are designed to prevent. You cannot “catch” the disease from the vaccine. Some vaccines contain “killed” virus, and it is impossible to get the disease from them. Others have live, but weakened, viruses designed to ensure that you cannot catch the disease.
- Young and healthy people can get very sick, too. Infants and the elderly are at greater risk for serious infections and complications, but vaccine-preventable diseases can strike anyone. If you’re young and healthy, getting vaccinated can help you stay that way.
- Vaccine-preventable diseases are expensive. Diseases not only have a direct impact on individuals and their families, but also carry a high price tag for society as a whole, exceeding $10 billion per year in direct and indirect costs. An average influenza illness can last up to 15 days, typically with five or six missed work days.
When you get sick, your children, grandchildren, and parents are at risk, too. In general, vaccine preventable diseases are more serious for the very young and the very old. So when you get vaccinated you’re protecting your family in the event you get sick.
Additional information is available at www.cdc.gov/vaccines/ and http://www.nfid.org/about-vaccines/reasons