Each year in August, National Immunization Awareness Month provides an opportunity to highlight the value of immunization across a person’s lifetime. Immunizations help prevent dangerous, sometimes deadly diseases. To help protect against illnesses like the flu, measles, and tuberculosis, both children and adults alike should be vaccinated.
A common misconception about immunizations is that they cause harmful side effects. In fact, vaccines are safe for the majority of people because of advances in medical research and ongoing review. Occasionally, mild side effects will appear and go away on their own. They can include a low grade fever (usually lasting less than 24 hours), and soreness, redness, or slight swelling where the injection was given. The risk of a more serious adverse effect is extremely low.
Immunizations work by tricking the body into believing it is experiencing a full-scale invasion by an infectious agent so that the immune system can fortify its defenses. During vaccination, a harmless version of a germ is introduced to the body and the immune system responds by producing antibodies to attack the intruder. Thereafter, a memory of this “invasion” remains so that the immune system can quickly recognize and neutralize disease-causing agents when they appear.
Vaccines may be available at private doctor offices, public or community health clinics, or other community locations. If you have a doctor or regular source of care, speak with your provider about vaccines recommended for you and your family. Visit http://vaccine.healthmap.org to find a vaccine provider near you.
How can you help promote Nation Immunization Awareness Month?