The Importance of Getting Vaccinated

More than two centuries have passed since the first successful vaccine for smallpox was developed. We've come a long way since. Today's vaccines are among the 21st century's most successful and cost-effective public health tools for preventing disease and death. Thanks to immunizations, debilitating and often fatal diseases like polio, that were once common, are now only distant memories for most Americans.

From infants to senior citizens, timely immunizations are one of the most important ways for you to protect yourself and others from serious diseases and infections. Certain groups of people may need special vaccinations. For example, first-year college students living in dorms should be immunized against meningitis. Travelers going abroad to foreign countries where diseases that aren't common in the United States exist, such as typhoid fever and yellow fever, may need additional vaccines before their trips. Measles, rubella, mumps and polio also may be a risk during foreign travel.

The development and widespread use of vaccines has led to the reduction or abolition of once common childhood diseases. However, the viruses and bacteria that cause vaccine preventable disease and death still exist and can be passed on to people who are not protected by vaccines. All children should be immunized at regular health care visits, beginning at birth immunizations are very important in keeping our children healthy.

The recommended childhood and adolescent schedule urges shots starting at birth and going through 24 months of age, with boosters and catch-up vaccines continuing through the teenage years and into old age. By immunizing, we safeguard our children against the potentially devastating effects of vaccine preventable diseases. No child should ever have to endure the effects of vaccine preventable diseases, simply because he or she was not vaccinated on time. Catastrophic effects of childhood diseases can lead to life-long illness or even death.

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