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All About Vaccines: A Safe Way to Protect Yourself and Others From Disease

Today's Medicine

Published: April 24, 2020


Vaccines are one of medicine’s greatest and safest tools to prevent dangerous and potentially deadly disease. Thanks to immunizations that are now commonplace, some diseases that were once devastating are becoming rare in our country. But in recent years, we’ve also seen the consequences of people choosing not to vaccinate themselves or their children – including a rise in measles cases


Deadly diseases

Vaccinations may void a number of deadly diseases in people of all ages – from infants all the way to older adults. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a guide to recommended vaccines by age for diseases that include: 

  • Chickenpox (Varicella)
  • Diphtheria
  • Flu (Influenza)
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type b)
  • HPV (Human papillomavirus)
  • Measles
  • Meningococcal
  • Mumps
  • Pneumococcal
  • Polio (Poliomyelitis)
  • Rotavirus
  • Rubella (German measles)
  • Shingles (Herpes zoster)
  • Tetanus (Lockjaw)
  • Whooping cough (Pertussis)


Updated yearly

While most vaccines are administered in childhood, protection from some of them can wear off over time. Adults may also be at risk for vaccine-preventable disease due to age, job, travel or health. To ensure the health and safety of the public, each year the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices reviews and approves the recommended immunization schedules for children and adolescents under the age of 18. That schedule, as well as the catch-up immunization schedule, is also approved by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Physicians and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Their careful review and advances in vaccines often mean changes to what vaccines you need and when. 


What vaccines do you need?

Your vaccine schedule depends on your age:

It’s important to remember that vaccines are safe. They must go through years of careful testing and be approved by the Food and Drug Administration prior to use. And while all medications have some side effects, vaccine-related problems tend to be mild.


Protecting more than you

Immunizations are there to protect not only your health but also the health of those around you – family members, neighbors, classmates and others in your communities – including those who may not be able to get vaccinated themselves like people with underlying health concerns or infants who are too young. 

When enough people are immune to a certain disease, we achieve community immunity – also called herd immunity. Vaccines aren’t just about you – they’re about your child, your grandmother and your coworker. 

If you have questions about vaccines, talk with your primary care provider. They are there to provide all the facts you need to make educated decisions when it comes to protecting your health.


More resources

Rudolf Kotula

About the Author:

Dr. Rudolf Kotula is a board-certified infectious disease physician. He specializes in areas such as antibiotic resistance, travel medicine and infection prevention.

You can visit Dr. Kotula at Methodist Physicians Clinic Regency.

See More Articles by Rudolf Kotula