The Importance of Being Vaccinated

Whether or not to vaccinate is a hot topic these days.  What was once viewed as a desperately needed rescue from devastating illnesses such as smallpox, polio, and diphtheria has changed.  Now that those diseases, and so many more, are under control, people wonder if they are needed any longer.  The short answer is yes, vaccinations are still of the utmost importance.

What Are Vaccinations?

The medical dictionary defines vaccinations, also known as immunizations, as “medicines that contain weakened or dead bacteria or viruses.”  When the disease is injected into the body, the immune system creates antibodies to fight off the illness.  Therefore, when the person is exposed to the bacteria or virus in the future, there will be little to no adverse reaction.  

Why Should You Get Vaccinated?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are several reasons why you should receive regularly scheduled vaccines.

  • Immunizations have nearly eradicated several diseases
  • They are safe and effective
  • They do not cause disease
  • To maintain health
  • To protect the future

The CDC uses this analogy to explain why we continue to vaccinate:

“It’s much like bailing out a boat with a slow leak. When we started bailing, the boat was filled with water. But we have been bailing fast and hard, and now it is almost dry. We could say, ‘Good. The boat is dry now, so we can throw away the bucket and relax.’ But the leak hasn’t stopped. Before long we’d notice a little water seeping in, and soon it might be back up to the same level as when we started.”

It is important to note that smallpox vaccines are no longer needed, as it was completely wiped out with the use of vaccinations.

The Positive Effects of Vaccinations

There are many benefits to being vaccinated, both for yourself and for those around you.  When illness occurs, even a cold or the flu, it is contagious and passed from person to person.  Life-threatening diseases are spread in the same manner.  However, if you are vaccinated, and immune to the disease, then you will not be passing it to your spouse, children, or friends.  And they will not pass it along.  And so on.  

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases states that it is much cheaper to prevent a disease than to treat it.  For example, a simple flu shot is inexpensive and often, with insurance, completely free.  If you catch the flu though, it can mean days off work, expensive medications or even a trip to the hospital.

Questions to Ask the Doctor

It’s important to know the details regarding your health.  Here are a few questions to ask the doctor:

  • Is it safe to get vaccinated?
  • What are the risks?
  • What are the benefits?
  • Will it make me sick?
  • Can I get vaccinated if I’m allergic to eggs?
  • Do Vaccines Have Side Effects?

With so much information on the internet it’s hard to decide what is true and what is not.  A common belief that is completely false is that childhood immunizations can cause autism.  The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that most common side effects are very minimal, do not last long and may include pain at the injection site, fever, chills and fatigue.

In conclusion, it is best to err on the side of caution.  Any minor side effects you might receive from being vaccinated are far better than what you might suffer if you get the disease the vaccination prevents.