Family Health

The Importance of Vaccination to Protect Those Around You

There's a lot of talk about vaccines lately. From Ebola to the seasonal flu, vaccines are definitely on a lot of people's minds. You may think that the importance of vaccination is marginal because you're healthy and can fight off disease, but vaccination protects not only yourself but the people around you as well. If you're vaccinated against a disease, you can't catch it and give it to others.

Helping Those Who Can't Be Vaccinated

Vaccines are an important preventive measure for everyone, but what you may not know is that there is a small population of people who can't be vaccinated for medical reasons or who don't respond to some vaccines. These individuals may have compromised immune systems or severe allergies to a particular vaccine. People who can't receive vaccines rely on the people around them to get vaccinated instead. If you are vaccinated it helps ensure that someone who is medically unable get a vaccine - whether a loved one or the person standing next to you in line at the grocery store - won't catch a disease that they can't fight off on their own.

While it's important for everyone who can get vaccinated to do so, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) emphasizes a special focus on vaccinating young children and pregnant women. Newborn babies receive the protection of disease-fighting antibodies from their mothers, but as this immunity wears off within the first year, they need to be vaccinated to help safeguard against certain preventable illnesses. The CDC has specific guidelines for pregnant women concerning what vaccines they should be receiving and when.

Preventing Disease Outbreak

Although vaccinations for certain preventable diseases are now widespread in the United States, this doesn't warrant relaxing their use. Disease outbreaks continue to happen around the world. And even in the U.S., some communities have experienced a resurgence of some preventable diseases when vaccination rates are low. The good news is that, when a large enough portion of a community is immunized, the possibility of an infectious outbreak is very small. This is known as community immunity or herd immunity.

The more people who get vaccinated, the safer communities will be overall. Easily transmitted diseases are still capable of growing fast, so other people's health is often dependent on our own self-care. This shows the importance of vaccination, because you have the power to protect yourself and others against the flu, measles, mumps, and many other vaccine-preventable diseases.

Stay Healthy and Productive

Getting sick can be a downer physically, but illness also takes a toll on our other responsibilities and our quality of life. We aren't as productive and can't take care of everyday tasks in our personal and professional lives.

That's why it's so important to stay on top of regular vaccinations and boosters. The CDC has specific recommendations for adult immunizations depending on people's ages and health conditions. While these recommendations vary slightly on an individual basis, adults across the board are advised to receive several in particular. All adults should get the flu vaccine every year, as well as one dose of Tdap and a Td booster every 10 years. Older adults will eventually require vaccines to prevent illnesses such as shingles and pneumonia, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Coupled with healthy eating, regular exercise, and other smart lifestyle choices, getting vaccinated sets the foundation for lifelong wellness. By getting vaccinated, not only will you be protecting yourself, but you'll also be showing compassion and care for loved ones, friends, and the greater community.

Posted in Family Health

Julia is a freelance journalist specializing in health, tech, lifestyle, and culture reporting. Her work has appeared in People.com, USA Today College, Parents.com, and Healthline, among other publications.

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*This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute health care advice. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or physician before making health care decisions.