Immunizations work by training our body to fight against infectious diseases. Vaccines are made using a weak form of the virus or bacteria that causes the disease, toxins created by microorganisms, or protein products made in a lab. Vaccines are administered to help the body develop antibodies against a specific illness. After being vaccinated, the person’s new antibodies can practice fighting the disease. In the future, the trained antibodies will protect the vaccinated person when they come in contact with the illness.
Most vaccines are injected but some can be administered by mouth or sprayed into the nose. Common side effects of vaccines are pain and redness at the injection site and fever. Serious reactions are rare and less common than the disease itself.
Vaccines are not just for children; we need vaccines throughout our lives! Every year we need a seasonal flu vaccine. Adults may need a tetanus booster vaccine every ten years. Vaccines are also important when living in close quarters with others, for example college students. Vaccine needs vary by region so check with your doctor before moving or traveling abroad. During the reproductive years, it is important to be up to date on vaccines before conceiving since some vaccines can’t be administered during pregnancy.
Vaccines offer protection against many infectious diseases and are especially important for people with chronic conditions. Immunizations allow us to protect others who may be unable to get vaccinated. Ask if you are up to date on vaccines at your next wellness visit. To learn more about vaccines visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.