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Immunizations & Vaccines

What are immunizations?
Immunizations help protect from disease. They also help reduce the spread of disease to others and prevent epidemics. Most are given as shots. They are sometimes called vaccines, or vaccinations.

In many cases when you get a vaccine, you get a tiny amount of a weakened or dead form of the organism that causes the disease. This amount is not enough to give you the actual disease. But it is enough to cause your immune system to make antibodies that can recognize and attack the organism if you are ever exposed to it.

Sometimes a vaccine does not completely prevent the disease, but it will make the disease much less serious if you do get it.

Some immunizations are given only one time. Others require several doses over time.​

If you are a woman who is planning to get pregnant, talk to your doctor about what immunizations you have had and what you may need to protect your baby. And if you live with a pregnant woman, make sure your vaccines are up-to-date.

Traveling to other countries may be another reason to get immunized. Talk with your doctor in advance to see if you need any shots.

Children age 6 and older as well as teens need shots (such as those for bacterial meningitis, tetanus, diphtheria, and whooping cough). Some shots are also given during adulthood.

It is important to keep a good record (including reaction to the vaccines) because it may be needed later in life for college, employment, or travel.

Why should you get immunized?

  • Immunizations protect you from dangerous diseases.
  • They help reduce the spread of disease to others.
  • Getting immunized costs less than getting treated for the diseases that the shots protect you from.
  • Vaccines have very few serious side effects.
  • They are often needed for entrance into school or day care. And they may be needed for employment or for travel to another country.