The Importance of Getting Vaccinated
By Diana Soto, RN
Esperança’s main focus is in the prevention of disease. We work hard to develop programs that help communities prevent diseases – programs such as vaccination campaigns reduce the spread of infectious diseases, allowing communities to be healthy and thrive.
Whenever our bodies are exposed to a virus or bacteria (pathogens), our immune system comes to our defense by attacking the pathogens. If we have a strong, healthy immune system- our immune system will fight off the pathogens to make us healthy again.
One of the ways our immune system fights against these foreign invaders is by making antibodies that will recognize that pathogen in case we are ever exposed to it again. These antibodies bind to viruses/bacteria to stop them from replicating. They also mark the invader so other blood cells can detect and destroy them, keeping us from getting sick.
A vaccine is a virus of whatever we are being vaccinated against. For example, the measles vaccine is a weakened or inactivated form of the measles virus being injected into us, which causes our bodies to create antibodies against the measles disease. If we are ever exposed to measles afterwards, we have the antibodies to protect us from getting the disease.
Vaccines are responsible for reducing many viral and bacterial diseases and have even eradicated smallpox. “It is estimated that vaccines have prevented more than 300 million childhood illnesses and more than 700,000 premature deaths between the years 1994 and 2013.” (CDC)
In recent years there have been measles outbreaks in the United States due to lower vaccination rates. There are those that believe certain neurological illnesses are directly caused by vaccines and so they decline to vaccinate their children. It is important to note that there is no definitive proof of this. No research or study has shown to prove these claims. Correlation does not equal causation! Lower vaccination rates puts the public in danger. There are many that cannot get vaccinated, making them susceptible, so they rely on others around them being vaccinated to lessen their exposure to these diseases. Those not able to receive vaccines include newborn babies, the immune compromised (those that either through disease or treatment have a suppressed immune system), and the elderly.
Esperança’s health promotion program engages and empowers individuals and communities to participate in healthy behaviors and make changes that reduce the risk of becoming ill, like getting vaccinated.
Good to know:
- Newborn babies are immune to many diseases because they have antibodies they got from their mothers. However, this immunity goes away during the first year of life.
- If an unvaccinated child is exposed to a disease germ, the child’s body may not be strong enough to fight the disease. Before vaccines, many children died from diseases that vaccines now prevent, such as whooping cough, measles, and polio. Those same germs exist today, but because babies are protected by vaccines, we do not see these diseases nearly as often.
- Immunizing individual children also helps to 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 a particular vaccine.
- Vaccine-preventable diseases have a costly impact, resulting in doctor’s visits, hospitalizations, and premature deaths. Sick children can also cause parents to lose time from work.
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Meet Diana Soto, RN