10 things you should know about vaccines

8 11 15 vaccinesAug. 10, 2015—August is National Immunization Awareness Month—so it’s a good time to prepare for the return of school and flu season. Learn about what vaccines can do for you with these 10 facts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization and other experts.

1. Vaccines can save your life

They are safe and effective ways to protect against infectious disease. Many of these diseases are serious, and some can be deadly.

2. Vaccines are not just for kids

All adults should get a flu vaccine every year and a Td booster shot for tetanus and diphtheria every 10 years, according to CDC.

Adults age 60 or older should get a zoster vaccine to protect against shingles. And everyone older than 65 should get a pneumococcal vaccine to protect against some infections of the lungs and bloodstream.

There are other recommended vaccines for adults as well. Talk to a doctor about what vaccines are right for you.

3. Moms-to-be should get vaccinated

A woman should get a dose of Tdap during each of her pregnancies. The ideal time is between 27 and 36 weeks, CDC says. This vaccine protects both mom and newborn against whooping cough, tetanus and diphtheria.

4. Vaccines do not cause autism

The 1998 study that suggested a link was later retracted because of serious flaws. Since then, multiple scientific studies have not shown any association between vaccines and autistic disorders.

5. A flu shot can help you every year

All kids and adults age 6 months and older should get the flu vaccine every year when it becomes available. The flu virus mutates quickly, so it’s important to update your immunity each year.

6. Getting all doses in a vaccine series counts

By the age of 2, vaccines can protect kids from 14 diseases. But these vaccines work best when kids get every dose on schedule. Find out when to get these vaccines all the way up to age 6 with this infographic.

7. The HPV vaccine is for boys and girls

The HPV vaccine can protect against dangerous strains of human papillomavirus that cause cancer and genital warts. It is most effective when given before a person becomes sexually active—and has enough time to develop a good immune response—so it’s recommended for boys and girls at 11 or 12 years of age.

8. Pre-college vaccines are important for students

Even healthy college students can get sick from vaccine-preventable diseases like meningitis. Diseases can spread easily in dormitories and school facilities, so get teens vaccinated before move-in day.

9. Vacation may require vaccination

If you plan to travel internationally, you might need additional vaccines, depending on your destination. Check out CDC’s travel page for more details.

10. The MMR vaccine is very effective

More than 95 percent of people who receive the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine become immune to all 3 diseases, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. In the 20th century, an average of over 500,000 people in the U.S. got measles annually. In 2010, there were only 63 cases. This was all thanks to vaccination.

And that’s not all. For even more ways that vaccines can protect you and your family’s health, visit our Vaccines topic center.


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