As school comes back in session and with flu season around the corner, there is an active discussion about vaccines and immunization beginning. Families might be wondering which vaccines their child might need for school, or whether it is worth it to get an annual flu shot. In honor of National Immunization Awareness Month, Kyle ER wants to talk about vaccines and immunizations and why they are so important for our community health.
How do we become immune?
Immunization is the action of making someone resistant to infections and diseases. The most common form of this is through vaccines, but there are other methods of immunization as well. Exposure to the illness is key, so that your body’s immune system, white blood cells, and antibodies all have an easier time identifying and fighting the illness.
In many cases, immunity can prevent someone from getting sick at all, and sometimes it acts as a shield, lessening how long or how severely someone is sick. There are two main methods for immunization, the first one being exposure. This means they get sick themselves, but then gain immunity from the disease. The most widely known example of this is chicken pox, which happens to most children, but rarely is ever contracted a second time. In the case of chicken pox, many children gain immunity by first contracting the illness and fighting it on their own.
The second form of immunization is through vaccines, and they are the most widely spread and effective immunization methods today.
Why do we need vaccines?
Not all diseases are like the chicken pox. Many of them are more severe and harder to recover from, which means that we cannot gain immunity by contracting them as a child. Illnesses like Yellow Fever, Polio, and Tetanus are devastating diseases that infected many people in past generations. If a baby or child caught them today, their immune systems would not be equipped to fight off the disease, which means they would not gain any immunity from natural exposure.
Vaccines give immunity without the risk that comes from contracting the disease. This is why infants and children are given various shots and boosters as they grow, to protect them and give them the immunity their body needs to resist dangerous illnesses. When enough people in a community share the same immunity, they can eradicate the illness entirely, in their area. This is why Smallpox is considered extinct, because vaccines have been administered worldwide, and the disease died out.
Since vaccines can keep individuals, as well as whole communities, safe from dangerous diseases, they are a valuable tool in public health. Schools often require students to have certain vaccines administered before or while they attend the school to ensure the safety of the children in every grade and class.
When do we not need vaccines?
Today, there is some debate about whether or not parents should be vaccinating their children. Some people believe there is a risk of autism or mental disorders, while other parents think that delayed vaccination is a healthier alternative so that children can develop some immunities naturally. There is a lot of contention in this subject, but getting vaccinations highly recommended by doctors and the Center for Disease Control. Talk with your physician about vaccination schedules, and if your physician thinks that a delayed vaccination schedule is a good idea, then you can personalize your family’s medical plans accordingly. But avoiding vaccinations all together is rarely a good choice.
The only times that someone must avoid vaccinations entirely is when they have a condition which compromises their immune system, or an allergy to specific kinds of vaccines and medication. Even in the case of voluntary vaccines, like annual flu shots, most medical professionals advise getting the vaccine. The immunities they provide help to keep millions of people healthy all across the globe.
In honor of National Immunization Awareness Month, Kyle ER supports vaccines. While our team of board-certified physicians are available to treat emergency conditions 24/7, vaccines will stay with you your entire life to protect you from some of the most dangerous diseases of all.
This blog is written by Maggie Berardo, content writer at Nutex Health.
Nutex Health, Inc. supports you and your family’s health. Come visit Kyle ER or any one of our concierge-level freestanding facilities for the emergency care you deserve, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.