August is National Immunization Awareness Month, highlighting the importance of vaccines for people of all ages. As the school year approaches it is important to vaccinate yourself and your children in order to stay healthy.
Vaccines are safe and effective at preventing diseases. They reduce your risk of infection by working with your body’s natural immune system to help safely develop immunity to disease.
Vaccines are made up of viruses or bacteria that are altered or weakened so that they only cause an imitation of the disease and not the disease itself. The first time your body encounters a virus or bacteria it can take several days for your body to produce the antibodies – a protein used by the immune system to identify and neutralize harmful bacteria and viruses – needed to fight the infection. After that response is over, your body’s immune system remembers how to protect itself against that infection, so if your body encounters the same virus or bacteria again it will produce antibodies to attack the infection more quickly and efficiently.
All vaccines are thoroughly tested and carefully monitored to ensure they are safe and effective for people of all ages.
Similar to taking any medication, vaccines can have side effects. However, the majority of vaccine side effects are mild, such as soreness or redness where the vaccine was given, or a low-grade fever. These side effects normally go away within a few days. Serious side effects following vaccination occur once in a million doses.
Without vaccines you and your children are at risk for serious, life-threatening illnesses. It is important to vaccinate children under age 5 because this is when they are most vulnerable to diseases because their immune systems are immature. Vaccines for children protect against serious diseases like measles, cancers caused by HPV, whooping cough, and the flu. Adults also require vaccines to prevent whooping cough, shingles, types of pneumonia, and the flu.
During National Immunization Awareness Month, the Partnership for Public Health encourages you to talk to you doctor, nurse, or other healthcare professional to ensure you and your family are up to date on recommended vaccines.
We also encourage you to visit CDC’s Interactive Vaccine Guide, which provides information on the vaccines recommended during pregnancy, adulthood, and throughout your child’s life.
Throughout the month, the Partnership for Public Health will be sharing information and resources on our website and Facebook page to highlight the importance of vaccines. Follow us for more information on vaccine schedules and state required school vaccines!