What’s the big deal about vaccinations? Why should we get them??
Image Credit: Shutterstock
Author: Natalee Wheeler
The History Behind Vaccines
Perhaps the most important part of vaccine history is the occurrence of smallpox. Smallpox is a disease that causes high fevers, rash and kills about 1/3 of the people that it infects, In the 20th century alone, it is estimated that smallpox killed around 300 million people. However, in today’s society smallpox is eradicated and it is due to vaccinations.
In the late 1700s, a man named Edward Jenner created a vaccine for smallpox. Although he was not the first to make this discovery, he pursued using science to improve vaccination techniques and his work eventually led to the eradication of smallpox worldwide.
Since then, vaccines for diseases such as measles and polio have also been created and had widespread success at preventing future cases of these life threatening diseases. Today, in the U.S., approximately 26 different types of vaccines are used and have been effective in preventing illness.
What exactly IS a vaccine?
A vaccine contains the same types of germs that cause the illness. For example, a measles vaccine would contain measles virus. However, vaccines are either killed or weakened to a point where they don’t make you sick. The point of vaccines is to develop immunity. Vaccines do this by imitating the diseases, which helps your body develop antibodies that can later fight off the actual infection if it occurs.
Over the past decades, vaccinations have come to be a controversial topic in the healthcare field. This was largely due to a study in the 1990s that ‘proved’ a link between autism and vaccines. However, when given a closer look, researchers and experts found a plethora of false information in this study and the author of the study was eventually revoked of his license to practice medicine.
So, should I get a vaccine?
Yes! Vaccinations have been proven to be an effective way of preventing certain diseases and creating healthier communities. Here are a few reasons why you should get vaccinated!
Vaccines are effective and safe
Before vaccines are used, they are tested in labs, which can take years. This safety testing ensures that vaccines are safe and effective at preventing illness and disease. The vaccines are then licensed and regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Vaccines can save lives
Diseases that can be prevented through vaccines can cause long term illness, hospitalization, and even death when not properly treated. According to the World Health Organization, vaccines currently prevent between 2-3 million deaths globally every year. If vaccine coverage were improved, an additional 1.5 million lives could be saved.
Getting sick is costly!
Vaccine preventable diseases can lead to a lot of costs, both financial and otherwise. Some estimates show that the U.S. spends close to $27 billion on vaccine preventable illnesses per year!
Another cost of not vaccinating is missing work. Every year, vaccine preventable diseases cause millions of adults to get sick and miss work. They also may be unable to provide care to their children or other dependents during this time, both large costs for a preventable illness.
You can prevent the spread of disease
With vaccinations, you are able to prevent the spread of diseases in your community. Certain vulnerable populations of people (such as the elderly, immunocompromised, pregnant, or children) may not be able to get certain vaccines or may be more susceptible to illness. By getting yourself vaccinated, you can help prevent the spread of disease to these vulnerable populations.
Vaccines make travelling safer
If you are travelling to a developing country, vaccines can keep you safer and healthier. There may be illnesses and diseases in parts of the world that you haven’t been to yet, so it is important to know what vaccines to get before you travel to another country.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a great website to help you figure out what vaccinations you may need! https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/list
Vaccines are an important aspect of a healthy life
Just like it is important to exercise, eat a balanced a nutritious diet, and drink water, it is also important to get vaccinated.
What about the flu shot???
The flu shot is a great way to protect yourself from influenza. Influenza is a serious disease that can cause hospitalization or even death. Just like other vaccinations, a flu vaccine is recommended to prevent a disease and is safe and effective.
If you have other questions regarding the flu shot, be sure to check out our article discussing the reasons why flu shots are important to college student health! The CDC also has a whole section of their site dedicated to flu prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/index.html
Resources at MSU
MSU Travel Health Clinic: http://www.montana.edu/health/medicalservices/travelclinic/index.html
Services: The MSU Travel Health Clinic offers appointments with a travel health coach who is able to help you identify what vaccinations you may need, depending on the country you want to visit.
Location: 1102/1106 S. 6th Ave., Bozeman, MT
UHP Medical Services: http://www.montana.edu/health/medicalservices/clinicalservices/vaccines_at_UHP.html
Services: For most immunizations, MSU students are able to go to the walk-in clinic.
Here is a list of all the vaccinations offered at MSU’s student health clinic!
- Seasonal Flu Vaccine
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Gardasil (HPV Vaccine)
- Meningococcal MCV4
- Meningococcal B
Location: Swingle Building, East of the SUB
Telephone: (406) 994-2311
Want to learn more? Here are some helpful websites!
U.S. State Department: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel.html
International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers: https://www.iamat.org/
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/
World Health Organization: https://www.who.int/features/factfiles/immunization/en/
Medline Plus: https://medlineplus.gov/immunization.html
Department of Health and Human Services Vaccination Site: https://www.vaccines.gov/
American Medical Association: https://www.ama-assn.org/topics/vaccinations?matchtype=p&network=g&device=c&adposition=1t1&keyword=vaccinations&utm_effort=GG0001&gclid=Cj0KCQjwgLLoBRDyARIsACRAZe6pxDUT9VpFRqRfg1AQBGFx6inl4OkOwzBrkAXKhjJIVvxD5A8IaqkaApROEALw_wcB