4 Things You Need to Know About Vaccines

In 2014, I was fascinated by the fact that there was a measles outbreak originating in the happiest place on earth – Disneyland. This led me to write a pretty lengthy research paper on how vaccines are discussed for a class in my master’s program.

I just couldn’t wrap my head around the outbreak. In 2000, measles had been eliminated from the U.S. How, 14 years later, did we have an outbreak of a disease that was no longer considered a threat in the U.S.?

The cause of the Disneyland outbreak was never found, but authorities believe a person infected with measles was traveling from another country and spread it to people who were not protected against the virus.¹

HAP recommends a number of vaccines for our members. We follow the schedules and guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

immunization screenshot

Download our immunization tracker to keep track of your child’s vaccinations.  Take it in with you the next time you go to the doctor. Click on the image and print or save it for later.

 

Why do we recommend vaccinations?

Vaccines are safe

There’s a lot of anti-vaccination information on the internet, but vaccines are safe.² Before a vaccine can be made available, meaning it has a license to sell, it has to go through years of testing with the Food and Drug Administration, or FDA. And, once it’s available, the FDA and the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control and Prevention, or CDC, track the safety of licensed vaccines.

Side effects of vaccines are usually pretty mild and go away in a couple of days.

It’s better to prevent a disease than treat it

The CDC said it best, so I’ll quote them directly. “Vaccination is one of the best ways parents can protect infants, children and teens from 16 potentially harmful diseases. Vaccine-preventable diseases can be very serious, may require hospitalization, or even be deadly — especially in infants and young children.” 3

Getting sick isn’t fun. In fact, as I write this post, I’m getting over a sinus infection. It knocked me out for days, and now weeks later, I’m still feeling its after-effects. I get the flu shot every year. If a sinus infection vaccination was available, I’d be first in line.

Outbreaks still happen

Vaccines don’t just help you, they also help those around you. As I mentioned, the 2014 measles outbreak inspired me to write a research paper. I learned that measles is so contagious that 90 percent of people who are not immune will get it, just by being in the same room with someone who has it. Other countries haven’t had the same success with immunization as the U.S. But our nonimmunized citizens are being infected by travelers carrying the virus.

Immunizations also help protect the health of our community, especially those people who cannot be immunized (children who are too young to be vaccinated, or those who can’t receive certain vaccines for medical reasons), and the small proportion of people who don’t respond to vaccines.

Adults need vaccinations too

Even if you got all your recommended vaccinations as a kid, there are still ones you need throughout your life. For example, adults are recommended to get a Tdap (most often known as “tetanus”) once every 10 years and a flu shot every year. Check out our recent blog post on adult immunizations for more. People with certain health conditions who are planning to travel to foreign countries may also need to be immunized. Make sure to check with your doctor.

What Immunizations Does Your Child Need?

The CDC created an interactive quiz to help you learn which vaccinations your child might need. As a bonus, you can print your results and take them with you to your or your child’s next doctor’s appointment.

 

1 https://blogs.cdc.gov/publichealthmatters/2015/12/year-in-review-measles-linked-to-disneyland/
2  https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/adults/reasons-to-vaccinate.html
3 https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vac-gen/vaxwithme.html

woman and child reading orange callout

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