Fabulous flu shot, victorious vaccine, or incredible immunizations, no matter the fancy adjective used to describe a vaccine, a shot is a shot and they are never fun. We have all heard the encouraging words from our doctors, “this won’t hurt a bit,” this is usually a slight understatement on their part. However dreaded or unpleasant an annual shot may be it is well worth the split second of pain. Immunizations are one of the top ten health accomplishments of the 20th century. Vaccines significantly reduce the incidence of many serious infectious diseases. The value of immunizations in public health is so great that August of every year is National Immunization Awareness month.
National Immunization Awareness Month is the perfect time to promote vaccines and remind family, friends, and coworkers to get caught up on their shots. Shots can prevent serious diseases like measles, diphtheria, and rubella. It’s important to know which shots you need and when to get them. Shots are not just for a healthy start such as for young children or pregnant women, vaccines do not stop after high school. Immunity for childhood diseases may wear off over time.
So what is a vaccine anyway? Before vaccines the only way to become immune to an infectious disease was to actually get it and with a little luck survive the illness. This type of immunity is known as natural immunity. With naturally acquired immunity a person must suffer all symptoms of a disease and also risk the complications. Natural immunity is a God given strength our bodies have as a first line of defense against infectious diseases. One of the other types of immunity our bodies have is artificial immunity. The word artificial tends comes with a negative stigma as pertaining to being not good or potentially harmful. This may be true when it comes to artificial food coloring, sweeteners, and flavors, but it is quite the opposite when it comes to our body’s immunity. Vaccines provide artificially acquired immunity. A vaccine is the active form of artificial immunity; which the deliberate transfer of disease is from affected to non-affected humans. This may lead to resistance in the same way in which natural transfer can. The result is artificial immunity in contrast to natural immunity that results from infection.
Vaccines are fundamental for the public health of a community. Immunizations are just another step towards the ultimate goal of preventing disease. Given the fact that vaccines are essential to communities, if you are planning on moving into the dorms this fall, it is especially important to should check with your doctor and see what vaccines may be beneficial to not only your health but your new community’s overall health. Check out this website from the CDC that gives information on the different types of vaccines and when they should be given. http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/hcp/imz/adult.html.
This is the time of year when parents prepare for their children’s return to school, students are heading back to college, and healthcare workers are preparing for the upcoming flu season. August is a perfect time to remember that vaccines help prevent many serious diseases and improve the health and well-being of our community. For more information, check out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website for tips and recommendations.
Health Science, Pre-Physician Assistant
Leadership Allied Health