Q&A: Immunizations

According to The Centers for Disease for Control and Prevention (CDC), immunization is defined as “the process by which a person becomes protected against a disease.” The process of vaccination (injection of a killed or weakened infectious organism) helps people to become immune to certain diseases. Vaccines can be administered by mouth, via aerosol or through needle injections.

Q: Who should receive immunizations?

A: Individuals of all ages— infants, children, adults and the elderly. Special immunizations are often recommended for individuals whose travel plans include visits to certain countries in which vaccine-preventable illnesses are still common.

Q: What illnesses can immunizations prevent?

A: Immunizations today prevent a host of illnesses. Some common childhood immunizations include:

  • Measles
  • Chickenpox (Varicella)
  • Mumps
  • Rubella
  • Tetanus
  • Polio
  • Pertussis
  • Hepatitis (A and B)
  • Diphtheria
  • Influenza

Q: When should people receive immunizations?

A: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers resources to help patients determine which immunizations are needed at certain ages and life stages. For example, many states require that children receive certain immunizations prior to starting school. To view the CDC’s immunization schedules, click here.

Q: Where can a patient receive an immunization?

A: Vaccines are commonly administered at private clinics, hospitals, local health departments, public health clinics, Community Health Centers (CHCs) and schools. Eligible children through age 18 can receive free vaccinations from any enrolled Vaccines for Children (VFC) Program provider. There are more than 44,000 enrolled VFC providers nationwide.

Q: Why do people need immunizations?

A: Thanks to vaccines, many vaccine-preventable illnesses have been almost (or completely) eradicated from the United States. However, to ensure the continued success of our nation’s immunization programs and to prevent future outbreaks, it is important for people to adhere to recommended immunization schedules. Immunizations also help protect vulnerable populations, such as the elderly, those who cannot receive immunizations due to medical reasons, those who cannot make an appropriate response to vaccination, or children who are too young to receive vaccinations. For example, it is often recommended that mothers receive Pertussis (whooping cough) vaccines to avoid spreading the disease to their infant children, for whom the illness can be deadly.

Q: How does an immunization work?

A: A killed or weakened form of the disease organism is administered to the patient (via injection, aerosol or by mouth). The body manufactures antibodies to fight the invading germs, which causes the body to develop resistance specific to these germs. In the event that the patient is exposed to these germs in the future, the antibodies will return to destroy them.

Source: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention