What are vaccines?
Immunization is the process of protecting a person from disease through vaccination.
This term is often used to mean the same thing as vaccination.
Vaccines prepare your body to recognize and defend itself against disease.
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How vaccines work
Vaccines are a major tool in the toolbox of disease prevention. They imitate an infection and teach your body what the disease looks like and how to protect yourself from it. They are a weakened form of the germs that make you sick, so you don’t have any serious health impacts. Vaccines help prevent you from getting sick if you are exposed to the real disease.
Vaccines may seem complicated and scientific, but each part is important to prevent disease. It’s also important to understand that the ingredients in vaccines are often found in the world around us.
The CDC’s website lists many of the common ingredients and their purposes.
Vaccine word search and answer key
Vaccine safety and efficacy is taken very seriously when preparing something for wide use.
Extensive trials are done before they are given to the public and there are many steps before drugs even make it to trials.
The following chart helps identify which diseases have an available vaccine
West Nile Virus
When to Get Vaccines
The CDC continues to do research and make recommendations for eligible populations. The Covid-19 vaccine is now available to those 6 months and older.
Vaccines schedules are determined by healthcare professionals and make sure you get vaccines when your body most needs them
There are different types of vaccine schedules depending on what they are protecting your body from. Some you only need when you’re a baby and some are for when you are older. There are also vaccines that happen once in your life and others that are needed every year.
Can you think of another vaccine that you need every year?
This chart from the Virginia Department of Health provides the childhood vaccination schedule
Annual vaccines are used when the virus evolves, and strains are different every year. Even if you got the flu vaccine last year you still need it this year.
Vaccines like Chickenpox and Hepatitis B need multiple vaccinations to be effective, and the Tdap vaccine is needed every 10 years after the initial dose
You can protect yourself and others
Take charge of your health
It’s always better to prevent disease than treat it. By staying up to date on your vaccination schedule you can protect yourself and those around you. Some people aren’t eligible for vaccinations because of serious medical conditions, such as cancer. Diseases that are preventable with vaccines can impact them at a much higher rate than for healthy individuals, so we can all do our part by getting vaccinated ourselves.
When most people in the population are protected from disease it’s possible to reach something called “Community Immunity.” Community Immunity, also known as Herd Immunity, means that enough people in the community have been vaccinated to stop the vaccine from spreading from one person to another. Disease is unable to spread through a population where most people have received protection from the disease through a vaccine. As a result, even if not all members of a community can be vaccinated, they are still protected through the help of others.
Every year I do my part by getting the recommended flu shot!
How do you help others?
Your local health department is a great way to learn more about vaccines and other community health projects! You can also get vaccinated at your local health department!