Vaccines are essential preventive medicine because they help keep people healthy. They reduce the risk of diseases that cause serious and often life-threatening illness, disability, or death in children and adults. Vaccines have greatly reduced and in some cases completely eradicated diseases that routinely killed or sickened babies, children, and adults a few generations ago, such as smallpox and polio.
Vaccinations work with your natural immune system to create immunity against deadly diseases. While many people worry about side effects, these are rarely seen and are very mild. Some vaccines might cause discomfort, but they are much safer and less painful than the disease itself.
A few people may develop an allergic reaction to a vaccine, but these are extremely rare. It’s important to let a healthcare provider know if you have a high fear of needles, a history of fainting, or any other condition that could affect your response to vaccination. They will be able to make sure you are given the right vaccine for your health needs.
Even if you are young and healthy, you can still get very sick from vaccine-preventable diseases. It’s important to get your shots, because some vaccines lose their effectiveness over time and need boosters to continue providing protection. Also, if you have a weak immune system due to pregnancy, illness or a medical treatment, it’s even more important to stay up to date on your immunizations. By having a strong majority of your community protected, it’s harder for infectious diseases to spread – a principle called herd immunity.