- You are over 45
- You are overweight and have additional risk factors, such as a family history
- You lead an inactive lifestyle.
It’s hard to fully appreciate how vaccines have changed the world of modern medicine. The fact is, vaccines have helped save millions and millions of lives. On a global scale, health organizations work diligently to distribute vaccines to poorer countries. Thanks to increased access to the measles vaccine internationally, the annual death toll from this disease fell from almost 600,000 in 2000 to just 122,000 in 2012. However, vaccine-preventable diseases, such as measles, mumps, and whooping cough, are still a threat. They continue to infect U.S. children, resulting in hospitalizations and deaths every year. Outbreaks of preventable diseases occur when many parents decide not to vaccinate their children. In the year 2000, the endemic spread of measles was considered to be eliminated in the United States but is now on the rise. If children are not vaccinated, they can spread disease to other children who are too young to be vaccinated or to people with weakened immune systems, such as transplant recipients and people with cancer. When we vaccinate children, we not only protect other children, but family members, friends, and grandparents. Immunizations are not just for children. Protection from some childhood vaccines can wear off over time. You may be at risk because of your age, health, or lifestyle. All adults need immunizations to help prevent them from getting and spreading serious diseases. For instance, all adults need a seasonal flu vaccine every year. A study done by the CDC showed that the influenza vaccine saved 40,000 lives from flu-related deaths during the nine-year period from 2005-2014. Every adult should get the Tdap vaccine once if they did not receive it as an adolescent to protect against pertussis (whooping cough), and then a tetanus/diptheria booster shot every 10 years. You should talk with your doctor if you feel you should be exempt from these vaccinations. A recurrence in the rise of outbreaks of infectious diseases in the U.S., such as measles, can be traced to those traveling to the U.S. from other countries, but the CDC feels the real culprit is misinformation about vaccines. Anti-vaxxers take advantage of social media and the internet to stoke public resistance to vaccines. The World Health organization named vaccine hesitancy among the top 10 threats to global health in 2019. To help spread this message and to counter misinformation, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine created a website (see below) displaying overwhelming evidence that vaccines are safe. The American Medical Association sent a letter to top executives at Amazon, Facebook, Google, Pinterest, Twitter, and YouTube urging them to do more to stem the proliferation of health-related misinformation. For credible information about the safety of vaccines, talk to your doctor or visit: www.cdc.gov or sites.nationalacademies.org/BasedOnScience/vaccines-are-safe/