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Immunizations 101

Immunization Awareness Month is observed in August, so prepare yourself for the upcoming flu season by learning why immunizations are so important to your health.

What Is It?

Immunizations, or vaccinations, make you immune to certain diseases. They prepare your body to fight diseases by exposing you to a dead or weakened virus or bacteria that causes a particular disease, like measles for example. When the vaccine enters your body, your immune system makes antibodies against the virus so that it'll fight it off and prevent you from getting sick if you're ever exposed to the real thing. Each immunization is given through a shot, usually in your arm. Your arm may be sore for a couple of days, but a sore arm sure beats putting your health at risk of serious illnesses.

Why Is It Important?

Immunizations protect you, your family, your friends and everyone else you care about from deadly diseases. In fact, they save thousands of lives each year! Formerly common diseases like measles and smallpox have declined or been wiped out in North America because of vaccinations.

Who Should Be Immunized?

Everyone from babies to grandparents need to get immunized. Since kids are more vulnerable to infections than adults are, most vaccines are given soon after you're born until you're about six years old.

Which Immunizations Do You Need?

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends kids get the following vaccinations:

  • Influenza
  • PCV (pneumonia, blood infections)
  • Measles, mumps and rubella
  • Chicken pox
  • Diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis
  • Polio
  • Meningitis
  • Bacterial meningitis
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B

What Are the Risks?

In addition to pain and soreness from the vaccine, the most common risks linked to immunizations are fever, rashes, allergic reactions, seizures, or paralysis. Some people worry that immunizations are linked to autism, which is a brain development disorder that affects your ability to communicate and interact with people. While some parents of autistic children believe immunizations are to blame, studies have not been able to prove that the two are linked.

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