Vaccination is both safe and effective. A vaccine must go through extensive testing before the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves it. Once a vaccine has been approved, the manufacturer must test each individual batch for safety and report to the FDA. The FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) keep a close watch on any side effects that may result from a vaccine for as long as it’s in use.
Why you should get vaccinated.
Many diseases preventable by vaccines have become rare in the United States—but that doesn’t mean they’ve disappeared. The viruses and bacteria that cause these diseases still exist and can be spread to children and adults who haven’t been immunized. In some cases, vaccination against certain diseases is required by law. Depending on state laws, children must often be vaccinated before they can begin public school, or their parents must sign a certificate of exemption.
How vaccines work.
Vaccines help your body recognize and fight certain viruses and bacteria before they have a chance to make you sick. When you get vaccinated, your immune system makes antibodies—specialized proteins that fight disease. If you’re later exposed to a disease you’ve been immunized against, these antibodies will be there to help protect you.
Have your child vaccinated.
The following vaccines can help prevent serious illness in children, so it’s important to have your child vaccinated at the recommended age. Talk to your child’s doctor about which vaccines your child needs and when to get them.
• Chickenpox (varicella)
• Diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DTaP)
• Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib)
• Hepatitis A (recommended for certain populations—ask your doctor)
• Hepatitis B
• Influenza (flu)
• Measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR)
Your child can receive several vaccines during a single visit. Vaccines are just as safe and effective when given together as they are when given separately. Your child’s doctor can give you a recommended schedule of immunizations for your child.
Arm yourself against the flu.
Seasonal flu is much more serious than the common cold and can lead to severe health complications. Getting a flu vaccination each fall is the single best way to help prevent the flu and protect yourself and those around you during flu season. Everyone in your household should get vaccinated each year, but it’s especially important for:
• Anyone 50 or older
• Children 6 months old up to their 19th birthday
• Anyone with an ongoing health condition, like diabetes, heart disease, or lung disease
• Pregnant women
• Health care workers
• Anyone living with or caring for someone in any of these categories, or with a child under 6 months old. For more information about seasonal flu, visit kp.org/flu.
If you plan to travel to another country, see your doctor at least six weeks before you leave so you’ll have plenty of time to get any vaccinations you may need.
Visit kp.org/immunizations for recommended vaccines and immunization schedules.
Provided by Kaiser Permanente