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Vaccinations are one of the most important medical interventions ever devised by mankind. They help keep many millions of people protected against some of the most devastating diseases ever to plague human beings.
In fact, they have been so effective that some diseases that were once feared are now, for all intent and purposes, extinct. Here we briefly explain the importance of vaccinations and offer some reasons why you really should always get vaccinated.
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How helpful are vaccines?
Vaccines are one of the most effective medical measures available to keep you fit and healthy for most of your precious life. They are convenient, usually free to get, and will help you stave off some of the most horrible diseases known to mankind.
"Vaccines teach your immune system how to create antibodies that protect you from diseases. It's much safer for your immune system to learn this through vaccination than by catching the diseases and treating them. Once your immune system knows how to fight a disease, it can often protect you for many years." - NHS.
What are the disadvantages of vaccines?
The main disadvantage of vaccines is their potential side effects. They can cause, for example, temporary headaches, fatigue or loss of appetite, and irritation or mild pain at the site of injection.
On some rare occasions, it is also possible to get an allergic reaction after a vaccine. There are also some reports of neurological side effects such as seizures, but these are incredibly unlikely for most people.
Despite these side effects, the benefits of getting vaccinated far outweigh the potential risks of contracting the diseases they are designed to prevent.
How safe is vaccination?
Vaccinations are very safe for the vast majority of people. But, that being said, no vaccine is ever 100% side effect free or, for that matter, effective.
"First, no vaccine is 100% effective. To make vaccines safer than the disease, the bacteria or virus is killed or weakened (attenuated). For reasons related to the individual, not all vaccinated persons develop immunity. Most routine childhood vaccines are effective for 85% to 95% of recipients." - World Health Organization.
What is the importance of vaccines?
So, without further ado, here are some of the many reasons why vaccinations are so important. Trust us when we say this list is far from exhaustive.
It is also in no particular order.
1. Immunizations save lives
One of the most important reasons to get vaccinated is, it ultimately saves lives. Modern immunizations can help protect children from a wide variety of diseases that could potentially be fatal.
Some vaccinations have been so effective that they have actually completely eliminated some diseases. Polio, for example, was once America's most feared disease.
It caused death and paralysis for many people. Today, thanks to vaccinations, Polio is practically extinct in places like the U.S.
2. Vaccination is very safe and effective but can have side effects
Vaccinations are only ever deemed safe to administer to people once they have been carefully reviewed by scientists, doctors, and other medical professionals. While they can cause discomfort, pain, redness or tenderness at the site of injection, this is nothing compared to the suffering from the actual diseases, if contracted.
While there is also a risk of having an allergic reaction, this is rare.
3. Immunizations protect others around you too
One of the most important things about vaccinations is the fact that it helps protect you and others from dangerous diseases. While some have been eliminated, thanks to vaccinations, there are still many diseases doing the rounds in the population.
Some vaccine-preventable diseases, like measles, or whooping cough can, and will, have resurgences if not vaccinated against.
For this reason, it is always advisable to get vaccinated to prevent the spread of potentially dangerous diseases to your friends and family -- especially the infirm or very young.
4. Immunizations save time and money
Practically speaking, vaccinations can save you in lost time and money over the long run. For example, non-immunized children can be denied attendance at schools.
Some diseases that immunizations have been developed for can also lead to long term health problems and disabilities if contracted. This will not only affect your quality of life, but it can also seriously affect your ability to work, cost you in medical bills.
Diseases like influenza can incapacitate you for up to 15 days. This typically means losing five or six workdays. Adults who suffer from hepatitis A tend to lose around 1 month of work too.
This is avoidable as they generally covered by health insurance or supplied by public health services at no additional charge (beyond your taxes or insurance premiums of course).*
5. Immunizations protect future generations too
As previously mentioned, vaccinations have helped rid the world of some very serious debilitating diseases. Smallpox, for example, has now been eradicated worldwide meaning current and future generations will never have to suffer from it.
Other diseases, like rubella, can also pass from a mother to their unborn child if the mother is not vaccinated. By vaccinating people today, we are able to prevent the spread of serious diseases to future generations.
6. Vaccine-preventable diseases haven't all gone away
While there have been som great successes with regards to eliminating some diseases through vaccines, there are many more than that still pose a risk to health. Many viruses and bacteria that cause illness and death are still present in many countries of the world.
Without being vaccinated you are leaving yourself open to potentially getting infected and suffering the consequences. This is especially true where travel around the world has never been easier.
We have seen just how devastating this can be with the current outbreak of COVID-19.
7. Getting vaccinated helps the ones you love the most
By avoiding getting vaccinated you could prevent yourself from caring for your loved ones. The U.S. alone, millions of adults who get sick miss work and are unable to care for those who depend on them the most -- their children and aging parents.
Vaccinations help you remain fit and strong and in a position to provide the support needed by the most vulnerable in your family.
8. The old and young are the most at risk from disease-preventable diseases
Not to labor the point, but the very young and very old are the most at risk from contracting vaccine-preventable diseases. Their immune systems simply cannot cope with these diseases that are leading to potentially devastating outcomes.
While your immune system might be strong, it does not prevent you from potentially spreading it to the weaker members of your family. For this reason, vaccinations are one of the best ways of preventing the spread of certain diseases.
Think of it as your own personal disease shield.
9. Vaccines form an important part of your overall health
Finally, you should think of vaccines as an important part of your overall health. They are as important as a good diet and getting enough exercise for your body.
Unlike maintaining a healthy lifestyle, getting vaccinated is very easy. Vaccines are one of the most convenient and safest preventive care measures, going forward.
So book yourself in for one if you haven't already been vaccinated.