The development of vaccination to prevent infectious disease is among the most
important medical and public health advances that prevents illness, suffering, long-term
disability, and death. Good hygiene and sanitation also prevent the spread of
disease, but the germs that cause disease are still with us, and without vaccination,
they would make many more people sick. The CDC estimates that over two decades, between 1994 and 2013, childhood vaccination prevented 322 million illnesses,
21 million hospitalizations, 732,000 deaths, and saved $295 billion in direct
Vaccines can prevent many but certainly not all infectious diseases. Based on extensive
research, medical practitioners have developed schedules for vaccinations
in childhood, for adults, and some for special situations like pregnancy and travel
where you may be exposed to infectious diseases seldom or never found in the
U.S. Make sure you and your family are up-to-date on your vaccinations. The
CDC has detailed information about vaccination and recommended schedules on
their website. If your regular health care provider does not offer the vaccine you
need, many communities will have an adult immunization and travel clinic. The
CDC website (http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/list) includes advice about
infectious diseases for travelers listed by country
How vaccination works
When a disease-causing microbe (virus, bacteria, or a parasite like malaria) gets into
your body, your immune system recognizes the invader and mobilizes to destroy it.
Often this response works well, but it can be too slow and weak to prevent illness.
Vaccines consist of killed or modified microbes, parts of microbes, or microbial
DNA that do not cause illness but stimulate the body to mobilize the immune system
as though an infection occurred. If re-exposure to the infectious agent occurs,
the immune system will more quickly and strongly respond to stop the infection.
Vaccines are very effective, and most childhood vaccines produce immunity about
90% to 100% of the time.
Vaccines also prevent outbreaks of disease and save lives when a high proportion
of a community is immunized against a contagious disease. Even those members
of the community who are not vaccinated get some protection against that disease
because there is little opportunity for an outbreak. This helps those who are not eligible
for certain vaccines—such as infants, pregnant women, or people with a weak
(immunocompromised) immune system. This phenomenon is known as community
or herd immunity. If too many people opt out of vaccination, not only are they at
risk of illness, but the benefits of herd immunity are also lost.
This blog presents opinions and ideas and is intended to provide helpful general information. I am not engaged in rendering advice or services to the individual reader. The ideas, procedures and suggestions in that are presented are not in any way a substitute for the advice and care of the reader’s own physician or other medical professional based on the reader’s own individual conditions, symptoms or concerns. If the reader needs personal medical, health, dietary, exercise or other assistance or advice the reader should consult a physician and/or other qualified health professionals. The author specifically disclaims all responsibility for any injury, damage or loss that the reader may incur as a direct or indirect consequence of following any directions or suggestions given in this blog or participating in any programs described in this blog or in the book, The Building Blocks of Health––How to Optimize Your Health with a Lifestyle Checklist (available in print or downloaded at Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble and elsewhere). Copyright 2021 by J. Joseph Speidel.