August marks National Immunization Month, a time when we spread awareness and emphasize the importance of vaccinations against communicable diseases between people of any age. In order to build immunization to a disease or virus, patients of any age receive vaccines to build up the antibodies to resist and fight the disease should it enter later. While it may seem counterintuitive to inject vaccines that contain the same germs that cause disease, the way the body creates antibodies to resist future contractions of the disease is what helps to protect you. These vaccines are filled with cells of the disease that have either been killed or weakened to the point that they don’t make you sick. Some vaccines contain only a part of the disease germ.
What makes up a vaccine?
Good question! Vaccines are composed of different ingredients that aid in triggering the body to develop immunity against harmful diseases. These ingredients help ensure that the final immunization product is safe and effective. These include:
- Adjuvants help boost the body’s response to vaccines. (Also found in antacids, buffered aspirin, antiperspirants, etc.)
- Stabilizers help keep vaccines effective after being manufactured (Also found in foods such as Jell-O® and resides in the body naturally.)
- Formaldehyde is used to prevent contamination by bacteria during the vaccine manufacturing process. It resides in the body naturally (more in body than vaccines. It is also present in the environment, preservatives, and household products.)
- Thimerosal is also used during the manufacturing process but is no longer an ingredient in any vaccine except multi-dose vials of the flu vaccine. Single-dose vials of the flu vaccine are available as an alternative. No reputable scientific studies have found an association between thimerosal in vaccines and autism.
What Vaccines are Available in the United States?
According to the CDC, the current list of available immunizations in the United States for Adults include:
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)
- Seasonal Influenza (Flu) only
- Japanese Encephalitis
- Typhoid Fever
- Yellow Fever
The Impact of Vaccinations Worldwide
Immunizations currently save approximately 2-3 million deaths per year. Vaccines prevent deaths every year in all age groups from diseases like diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), influenza, and measles. It is one of the most successful and cost-effective public health interventions.
One of the most well-known vaccine successes over the years is that of the Meningitis A vaccine. Since it’s introduction to healthcare facilities for administration in 2010, mass vaccination campaigns have led to the control and near elimination of the deadly meningitis A disease in 26 African “meningitis belt” countries. The vaccine is now being integrated into routine national immunization programs.
Side Effects of Immunizations
While vaccines are an option for many, some may choose to opt-out due to potential side effects. These side effects are truly dependent on each individual’s response to the administration and extreme, long-lasting side effects are noted to be extremely rare. Most commonly reported side effects include nausea, fatigue, or a rash at the site of injection. Patients may also experience muscle and joint aches, chills, or a mild fever soon after the injection. These do subside after a short period of time. These side effects typically indicate that your body is reacting to the vaccines positively and is beginning to build immunity against the disease.
If you Choose Not to Vaccinate…
While vaccines are always optional, the medical community highly recommends them. You should, however, know the potential risks of not vaccinating your child and learn about the possibilities of them catching diseases from people who may not have any symptoms. Remember! You can’t always tell who is contagious.
If you choose not to vaccinate any members of your family, know you are responsible to follow these guidelines:
- Inform your child’s school, childcare facility, and other caregivers about your child’s vaccination status.
- Notify the doctor’s office, urgent care facility, ambulance personnel, or emergency room staff that your child has not been fully vaccinated. They need to consider the possibility that your child may have a vaccine-preventable disease so that they can treat your child correctly as quickly as possible.
- Isolate your child so disease during an outbreak does not spread to your child and others especially infants too young for some vaccines.
- Look up the countries where you will travel on the CDC travelers’ website before traveling. Travelers are exposed to diseases during travel or by others returning to the U.S.
If your child is in need of immunizations, please make an appointment with Lawton Community Health Center.
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Use of the information obtained by the Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not replace medical advice given by a qualified medical provider to meet the medical needs of our readers or others.
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The CDC Basics: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd/vpd-vac-basics.html