In the U.S., vaccines have greatly reduced or eliminated many infectious diseases that once routinely killed or harmed infants, children, and adults. However, the viruses and bacteria that cause these diseases still exist and you can still get these diseases if you aren’t vaccinated.

1. Vaccine-Preventable Diseases Have Not Gone Away

The United States has very low rates of vaccine-preventable diseases, but this isn’t true everywhere in the world. Only Smallpox has been totally eradicated with Polio close to being eliminated. According to the CDC, more than 350,000 cases of measles were reported from around the world in 2011, with outbreaks in the Pacific, Asia, Africa, and Europe. In that same year, 90% of measles cases in the U.S. were associated with cases imported from another country. Only the fact that most Americans are vaccinated against measles prevented these clusters of cases from becoming epidemics.

2. Vaccinations Protect Your Health

Vaccine-preventable infections are dangerous. Every year, approximately 50,000 US adults die from vaccine-preventable diseases in the US. By getting vaccinated, you can help protect yourself from a variety of preventable illnesses. Even if you received the vaccines you needed as a child, the protection from some vaccines can wear off. You may also be at risk for other diseases due to your job, lifestyle, travel, or health conditions. 

3. Vaccines Won’t Give You the Disease They are Designed to Prevent

You cannot get the disease from any vaccine made with dead/killed bacteria or viruses or just part of the bacteria or virus. Only immunizations made from weakened live viruses, like the chickenpox (varicella) and measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccines, could possibly make someone develop a mild form of the disease. It’s almost always much less severe than if someone became infected with the disease-causing virus itself. However, for those with weakened immune systems these vaccines may cause problems. The risk of disease from vaccination is extremely small. 

4. Vaccines Are Safe

Vaccines are among the safest products in all of medicine. Before a vaccine is given to a single person, it must go through extensive lab testing monitored by the FDA to ensure it is safe and effective. Once a vaccine is licensed, it is routinely monitored by a variety of federal agencies such as the FDA and CDC to ensure its safety and investigate any safety concerns.

5. Vaccines Help Protect Those Around You

A vaccine-preventable disease that might make you sick for a week or two could prove deadly for your children, grandchildren, or parents if it spreads to them. When you get vaccinated, you’re protecting yourself and your family. For example, adults are the most common source of pertussis (whooping cough) infection in infants, which can be deadly in infants. In 2017 alone, 13 US infants died from whooping cough.

Source: Center for Disease Control (CDC)

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