Path to better health
Everyone needs vaccines. They are recommended for babies, children, teenagers and adults. There are widely accepted and available vaccination schedules. They list what vaccines are needed and at what age they should be given. Most vaccines are given to children. It is recommended that they receive 12 different vaccines before turning 6 years old. Some of these come in a series of shots. Some vaccines are combined so they can be given together with fewer injections.
The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) believes that immunization is essential to prevent the spread of communicable diseases. Vaccines are especially important for at-risk populations, such as young children and older adults. The AAFP offers vaccination recommendations, vaccination schedules, and information on vaccines for specific diseases.
Staying up to date on vaccines is especially important when children return to school. During the 2021 school year, state-required immunizations among kindergartners fell from 95% to 94%. In the year 2021-2022 it fell again to 93%. Part of this was due to disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Is there anyone who cannot be vaccinated?
Some people with certain immune system diseases should not receive some types of vaccines and should talk to their healthcare providers first. There are also a small number of people who do not respond to a particular vaccine. Since these people cannot be vaccinated, it is very important that everyone else get vaccinated. This helps preserve “herd immunity” for the vast majority of people. This means that if most people are immune to a disease thanks to vaccines, it will stop spreading.
Do vaccines have side effects?
There may be side effects after you or your child receives the vaccine. They are usually mild. They include redness or swelling at the injection site. Sometimes children develop a mild fever. These symptoms usually disappear within one or two days. More serious side effects have been reported, but are rare.
It usually takes years of development and testing before a vaccine is approved to be safe and effective. However, in cases involving a global public health crisis or pandemic, it is possible to advance the research, development and production of a vaccine for emergency needs. Scientists and doctors at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) study research before approving a vaccine. They also inspect the places where vaccines are produced to make sure all rules are followed. Once the vaccine is released to the public, the FDA continues to monitor its use. Makes sure there are no security issues.
The benefits of its use far outweigh the risks of side effects.
What would happen if we stopped vaccinating children and adults?
If we stopped vaccinating, diseases would begin to return. Apart from smallpox, all other diseases are still active somewhere in the world. If we don’t stay vaccinated, the diseases will return. There would be epidemics, as there used to be.
This happened in Japan in the 1970s. They had a good whooping cough vaccination program. About 80% of Japanese children received a vaccine. In 1974 there were 393 cases of whooping cough and no deaths. Then rumors began that the vaccine was unsafe and unnecessary. In 1976, the vaccination rate was 10%. In 1979 there was a whooping cough epidemic, with more than 13,000 cases and 41 deaths. Shortly after, vaccination rates improved and the number of cases fell again.