Receiving Vaccines to Protect You and Those Who are Vulnerable

Posted: Feb 23rd, 2021 at 12:42PM - by Ashlee Arnold/Vice President

doctor holding vaccine

Diseases can travel quickly from one person to another and throughout a community, posing the risk of making a lot of people very sick, very quickly. But if enough people are vaccinated, it presents one of the best defenses against the spread.

This is why vaccination is one of the safest and most effective steps you can take to protect yourself, your children, your family, and the community at large. It also helps eliminate diseases that could spread now and into the future, thus protecting future generations from infection.

Let's find out how receiving vaccines protect you and those around you.

Why You Need to Stay Updated on Your Vaccines

Protect Yourself

Vaccines work by triggering your body's immune system to fight against certain diseases before you are infected with them.

As a result, should you come in contact with someone who is sick, your body responds more effectively to kill off the invading virus. Therefore, you can't acquire it and it can't multiply in your body. And because you won't catch the infection, this also means you won't pass it on to another person.

Essentially, vaccines help to prevent unwanted diseases from developing further within your body, minimize the severity of the infection, and reduce the spread of illnesses to others.

Protect Your Family and Community

Viruses and bacteria travel invisibly and rapidly, so people can get infected without even knowing it. Through herd immunity – which occurs when a majority of a community's population is vaccinated – it's increasingly difficult for diseases to spread, so fewer people are susceptible to them.

This means that even those who are unvaccinated or unable to receive vaccinations (like the elderly or pregnant women) can be effectively protected from the illness. This will then decrease the chances of communicable diseases spreading from person to person within communities.

It's important to note that the vaccination rates necessary to protect communities vary depending on the specific germ that's causing the infection, how infectious a disease is, and how well the vaccine works. Vaccinate Your Family reports that the community protection threshold for measles is 93-95%, mumps is 75-86%, pertussis is 92%, and polio is 80-86% of the total population.

Ultimately, the more people who are vaccinated, the fewer people will be infected, and the less likely a disease will spread widely and rapidly.

Protect Vulnerable People

Herd immunity is especially beneficial for individuals who are extra susceptible to infections or those who cannot be vaccinated. According to Vaccines Today, this includes people who are/have:

  • Newborn babies and the elderly.
  • Serious allergies.
  • Weakened or failing immune systems (e.g., people on chemotherapy).
  • Other health conditions (e.g., people with HIV/AIDS or cancer).
  • Too ill to receive vaccines.

These individuals' health and safety depend highly on the effects of community immunity. Thus, you can help protect vulnerable people by keeping your and your family's vaccinations up-to-date.

Help Limit Outbreaks and Potentially Eradicate Diseases

Another benefit of herd immunity is reducing outbreaks and the possibility of eradicating a disease. If enough people get vaccinated against a certain virus or bacteria, it cannot be transmitted from one person to another, resulting in the disease potentially dying out completely.

Australia's Department of Health explains that this was the case for the eradication of smallpox in 1980, after the World Health Organization (WHO) facilitated a vaccination campaign. Similarly, the success of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative saw a significant decline in polio cases, with only a few cases remaining in developing countries. In addition, the measles was declared eliminated from the US in 2000 as an effect of high levels of vaccination against the disease.

However, the fight is not yet over. Vaccinate Your Family reports that many infectious diseases that are no longer common in the United States are still very much present in other parts of the world. And because of today's interconnected world, diseases can easily cross when travelers to the country possibly carry and spread the virus or bacteria when they enter.

In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that outbreaks can happen when one or two cases of a particular disease are introduced to a community with low vaccination levels. If people choose not to get vaccinated, the number of illnesses can rapidly grow to hundreds of thousands of cases. Worse, if vaccination rates significantly decline, diseases — even ones that were previously eradicated — can potentially resurface and infect people again.

People should never be complacent by choosing not to receive vaccines. Rather, you should be responsible enough to take care of yourself and everyone around you.

woman receiving vaccine

Common Type of Vaccines

According to the WHO, there are four main types of vaccines, each designed to teach the immune system to fight certain germs and serious diseases.

Live vaccines use a weakened form of the germ to create a strong and long-lasting immune response. Usually, it only takes one or two doses of this vaccine to get a lifetime of protection. This vaccine type is used against diseases like chickenpox (varicella), measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR); smallpox; and yellow fever.

Inactivated vaccines use a killed version of the germ, so they don't provide immunity as strong as live vaccines. As such, multiple doses may be required to get ongoing protection from illnesses. This is usually used to fight off flu, hepatitis A, polio, and rabies.

Subunit, recombinant, polysaccharide, and conjugate vaccines use capsid, protein, or sugar to create a strong immune response that targets key parts of the germs. They also need multiple doses to offer continuous protection against diseases. The vaccines protect against illnesses like hepatitis B, HPV, pneumonia, shingles, and whooping cough.

Lastly, toxoid vaccines use toxins made by the germs to create immunity against parts of the germ, instead of the whole germ. They're used for protection against illnesses like diphtheria and tetanus.

An Important Note

While vaccines don’t provide 100% protection, just like many other medications, they're very much proven to minimize your chances of acquiring illnesses. They're also effective in protecting your family, the community, and vulnerable individuals from catching and spreading preventable diseases.

More importantly, vaccines help provide protection against long-term consequences of chronic infections, prevent outbreaks and pandemics, and potentially eradicate diseases.

Let's all play our part in helping our families and communities live and thrive in a safe, healthy, and strong environment. Receiving vaccines is the best and most responsible way we can achieve that.

Ready to get vaccinated or have questions about your vaccine needs? Contact e7 Health today to make an appointment or to request more information.

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