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The Facts about Immunizations

The World Health Organization recently stated, “There is arguably no single preventive health intervention more cost-effective than immunization”.

Worldwide, on a yearly basis, immunization averts 2 to 3 million deaths from diseases such as diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough) and measles.

The National Foundation for Infectious Diseases has posted 10 reasons to be vaccinated. The Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization relay the same message in their publications. The reasons are as follows:

“Vaccine-preventable diseases haven’t gone away. The viruses and bacteria which cause these diseases, which in some instances can lead to death, still exist and can affect those not protected by vaccines. At a time when people can easily travel across the globe, these diseases can cross around the world in one day.

“Vaccines will keep you healthy. Vaccinations throughout life protect against many infections. When you skip vaccines, you can leave yourself vulnerable to illnesses of all types including, for adults: shingles, pneumococcal disease, influenza, and pertussis.

“Vaccines are as important to overall health as diet and exercise. Like eating healthy foods, exercising and regular check-ups, vaccines play a vital role in keeping you healthy. Vaccines are one of the most convenient and safest preventive care measures available.

“Vaccination can mean the difference between life and death. Vaccine-preventable infections are dangerous. Every year, approximately 50,000 adults die from vaccine-preventable diseases in the U.S. That is more than deaths from breast cancer, HIV/AIDS or motor vehicle traffic accidents.

“Vaccines are safe. The U.S. has the best post-licensure surveillance system in the world, making vaccines extremely safe. New research has documented the safety of vaccines. A study in 1998 that linked MMR vaccine to autism was found to be seriously flawed and was retracted by the medical journal that published it. Thimerosal, which was a cause of concern for many, has been removed from most vaccines and others only contain a trace amount. This includes pediatric vaccine.

“Vaccines won’t give you the disease they are designed to prevent. You cannot “catch” the disease from the vaccine. The components of the vaccine are either “killed” virus or live weakened virus, both of which will result in the body making antibodies to fight the disease but will not give you the disease.

“Young and healthy people can get very sick, too. Infants, the elderly and immunocompromised individuals are at a greater risk for serious infections and complications from vaccine-preventable diseases; however, they can occur in anyone. The young and healthy can remain so by keeping up with recommended vaccines.

“Vaccine-preventable diseases are expensive. An average influenza illness can last up to 15 days, typically with five or six missed work days. Adults who get hepatitis A lose an average of one month of work. The World Health Organization reports that every $1 invested in immunization returns an estimated $16 in health-care savings and increased economic productivity.

“When you get sick, your children, grandchildren and parents are at risk too. A vaccine-preventable disease that might make you sick for a week or two could prove deadly for your children, grandchildren, or parents if it spreads to them. When you get vaccinated, you are protecting yourself and your family. For example, adults are the most common source of pertussis (whooping cough) infection in infants, which can be deadly in infants. In 2010 alone, 25 U.S. infants died from whooping cough.

“Your family and co-workers need you. In the U.S. each year, millions of adults get sick from vaccine-preventable diseases, causing them to miss work and leaving them unable to care for those who depend on them, including children and/or aging parents.”

Stay healthy and keep those you love healthy by keeping your immunizations up to date.

Traveling internationally? Check the CDC Travelers’ Health website to determine the need for immunizations not typically needed in the U.S. but of importance when traveling to another country.

Harrington HealthCare System does have a Travel Clinic which can assist you with these immunizations and any concerns. They can be reached at 508-765-8196.

Arleen Smith, RN, COHN-S, is the Director of CompreCare Services at Harrington HealthCare System.

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