Vaccines (also called immunizations) are the best way to help protect you or your child from certain infectious diseases. They save lives by preventing disease and by helping to reduce the spread of disease to others. Most vaccines are given as shots.

What are vaccines?

In many cases when you get a vaccine, you get a tiny amount of a weakened or dead form of the organism that causes the disease. This amount is not enough to give you the actual disease. But it is enough to cause your immune system to make antibodies that can recognize and attack the organism if you are ever exposed to it.

Sometimes a vaccine does not completely prevent the disease, but it will make the disease much less serious if you do get it.

Some vaccines are needed only one time. Others require several doses over time to help your body be able to fight the disease (build immunity).

What are some reasons to get vaccinated?

  1. Vaccines protect you or your child from dangerous diseases.
  2. Vaccines help reduce the spread of disease to others.
  3. Vaccines are often needed for entrance into school or day care. And they may be needed for employment or for travel to another country.
  4. Getting vaccinated costs less than getting treated for the diseases that the vaccinations protect you from.
  5. The risk of getting a disease is much greater than the risk of having a serious reaction to the vaccine.
  6. When vaccine rates drop below a certain level, preventable diseases show up again. Often, these diseases are hard to treat. For example, measles outbreaks still occur in the U.S.
  7. If you are a woman who is planning to get pregnant, talk to your doctor about what vaccines you have had and what you may need to protect your baby. And if you live with a pregnant woman, make sure your vaccines are up-to-date.
  8. Traveling to other countries may be another reason to get vaccinated. Talk with your doctor months before you leave to see what you may need.

What vaccines are recommended for children and adolescents?

Ask your doctor what vaccines your child should get. The vaccine schedule includes vaccines for:

  • Bacterial meningitis.
  • Chickenpox.
  • Diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (also known as whooping cough).
  • Flu (influenza).
  • Haemophilus influenzae type b disease, or Hib disease.
  • Hepatitis A.
  • Hepatitis B.
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV).
  • Measles, mumps, and rubella.
  • Pneumococcal disease.
  • Polio.
  • Rotavirus.

Vaccines start right after birth, and many are given throughout a baby’s first 23 months. Booster shots (the later doses of any vaccines that need to be repeated over time) occur throughout life.

Fewer vaccines are needed after age 6. But older children and teens need vaccinations too (such as those for bacterial meningitis and for tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough). Some vaccines are also given during adulthood (such as tetanus).

Keep a good record of vaccines, including a list of any reactions. When you enroll your child in day care or school, you may need to show proof of vaccinations. Your child may also need the record later in life for college, employment or travel.

Talk to your doctor if you or your child plans to be in a group living situation, like a college dorm or summer camp. You may want certain vaccines, like those for meningitis.

What vaccines are recommended for adults?

The vaccines you need as an adult depend not only on your age, lifestyle, overall health, pregnancy status, and travel plans but also on who you are in close contact with and what vaccines you had as a child.

Talk to your doctor about which vaccines you need. Common adult vaccines include:

  • Flu.
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV).
  • Pneumococcal.
  • Shingles.
  • Tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis.

ChristianaCare Primary Care offers vaccines for children and adults. Make an appointment at 302-777-0643.