Vaccinations are critical to maintaining a healthy population and have saved millions of lives. Their immediate benefits include providing long-term protection against some infectious diseases. They train the body how to identify pathogens they may come in contact with and fight against them by creating antibodies. Vaccinations directly protect against diseases that were once deadly, including polio, measles, tetanus, and whooping cough. For individuals who do not get vaccinated, they put themselves or their children at risk of developing a severe illness. Every year, thousands of individuals in the US are hospitalized due to severe illnesses that vaccinations can help prevent. By vaccinating yourself and your children, you minimize the risk of unnecessary suffering. For a list of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommended vaccinations by age, click here.
Vaccinations also protect individuals from diseases they may be exposed to in areas they travel to in other regions. For example, the yellow fever vaccine is required for travelers to certain areas of South America and Africa, due to the risk of contracting the illness while traveling to these destinations.
Vaccinations are not only critical for the individual receiving the shots but society at large. When a very high percentage of a population is vaccinated, herd immunity makes it more difficult for germs to spread from person to person. This, in turn, makes the entire community less likely to contract the disease. This is especially important for individuals unable to vaccinate, including those with cancer, HIV, type I diabetes, or other health conditions that weaken one’s immune system.