American society is a melting pot of cultures and beliefs, which makes for some interesting conversation about immunizations. Often, people only consider vaccines being administered to children. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), immunization is important for adult populations up to 65 and older.1 While there is controversy surrounding immunizations, the purpose of the blog is to raise awareness of what immunizations are and how they impact an individual’s health.
Why Are Vaccines Important?
Immunizations involve being given a vaccine. Vaccines are a product administered via injection to elicit the body’s natural immune response. The vaccine product is a dead or weakened form of the disease. The immune response our body develops results in antibodies which protect us against future exposures. The theory supporting immunizations is based on our body’s own natural immune system. The natural immunity reaction occurs over time and manifests in a full immune response if we are ever exposed to the disease. Some vaccines are given in multiple scheduled doses to allow the body to build immunity over time. This assures a long-term immunity is present.
You may have heard of “herd” or community immunity. This occurs when a community has a lower disease exposure rate. According to an article in Pharmacy & Therapeutics by C. Lee Ventola, a large portion of the community must be vaccinated for herd immunity to be effective. Herd immunity is not as effective as the actual immunization in preventing deadly diseases.2
Immunizations have been around for hundreds of years. Ventola notes that the CDC and Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recognize that vaccines are the number one disease prevention strategy health care providers have. It is known that immunizations have prevented an enormous amount of disease, thus preserving many lives and lowering health care costs significantly. Ventola notes an estimate that 40,000 deaths are prevented for each group of children receiving the recommended childhood immunizations, resulting in $70 billion in savings. The safety of immunizations is well documented and tracked for future safety and monitoring.
Immunizations schedules are tools made to present recommendations for how often people get vaccines for different viruses. The primary agency monitoring immunizations is the CDC, with its subcommittee being ACIP. The introduction of vaccines schedules in the 17th century has paved the way for the current 20th century vaccine schedule. The development of the immunization schedule is the result of research and data monitoring.
Early each spring, the committee reviews and makes recommendations on any updates to the vaccine schedules based on the previous year’s monitoring of adverse side-effects and the overall effectiveness of all the recommended vaccines. The CDC’s 2020 US Immunization Schedule and the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) vaccinations page are both important websites to visit if you have any questions about vaccinations and immunization schedules.
In closing, there is much conversation from the media regarding vaccines. The recommendation to receive vaccines should be made based on your current health status and consultation with your primary care provider.
At Grand Canyon University, our Bachelor of Science in Public Health degree program will help you build the foundations you need to pursue a career that allows you to play a role in improving public health through immunization awareness and other important topics. To learn more about the College of Nursing and Health Care Professions, visit our website or click on the Request Information button on this page.