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Tuesday, April 2, 2024



Important Tools in Protecting You & Your Community

are one of the most important tools in preventing the spread of infectious diseases and protecting our health. Vaccines are substances that stimulate the immune system to produce antibodies to a virus or bacteria without being infected first. This allows the body to recognize and fight off that specific virus or bacteria before it can cause an infection.

Vaccination can prevent more than 20 potentially fatal diseases and has contributed to eradicating smallpox, eliminating polio, reducing the number of measles-related deaths by 73% and decreasing rubella cases by 97%. However, if people stop getting vaccinated, rare and eradicated diseases like these could once again become threats to public health. Vaccines have also played a crucial role in controlling the spread and severity of seasonal illnesses like influenza.

Vaccines provide benefits to individuals, communities and the economy. On an individual level, vaccines can improve health and well-being by protecting against common diseases that have historically caused death, particularly in children. At the community level, vaccines can help reduce the transmission of preventable diseases. Lastly, studies suggest vaccination can positively affect economic growth, productivity and work absenteeism.

We need to stay up to date on our vaccinations to maintain immunity against diseases. This not only protects the individual but also helps to create herd immunity within the community. Herd immunity occurs when a large portion of the population is immune to a disease, making it less likely to spread and protecting those who cannot be vaccinated, such as infants, the elderly and individuals with weakened immune systems.

One common question people ask is whether vaccines are safe. The answer is yes – before vaccines are approved, they undergo rigorous clinical trials to ensure their safety and effectiveness. The benefits of vaccination far outweigh the risks, and serious side effects are rare. The United States’ long-standing vaccine safety system ensures vaccines are as safe as possible. Currently, the United States has the safest vaccine supply in its history. Millions of children safely receive vaccines each year, and it is always better to prevent these diseases than to treat them after they occur. Vaccines are proven to be safe, and they are the best strategy to protect ourselves and those around us from serious infectious diseases.

Despite the overwhelming evidence supporting the safety and importance of vaccines, there are still myths and misinformation circulating about their risks. It is important to consult reputable sources, such as health care providers and public health agencies, to get accurate information about vaccines and make informed decisions about our health.

In conclusion, vaccines are vital in protecting public health and preventing the spread of infectious diseases. By getting vaccinated, we can help to protect ourselves and others from serious illnesses. Individuals need to prioritize their health and well-being by staying up to date on their vaccinations and promoting vaccine awareness within their communities. Together, we can work toward a healthier and safer future for all.

Q&A Addressing Common Miscon-ceptions About Vaccination: What are the most common side effects of vaccines?

Vaccines can cause very mild side effects, such as soreness where the shot was given, which tend to disappear within 48 hours. Only 10% of those vaccinated have a fever, malaise and muscle pain, generally between six and 12 hours after immunization and lasting up to two days.

Is there a link between vaccines and autism?

Scientific studies and reviews continue to show no relationship between vaccines and autism. Please see the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) vaccine safety website for more information on autism and vaccines.

Will a COVID-19 vaccine alter my DNA?

COVID-19 vaccines do not change your DNA in any way. Both mRNA and traditional vaccines instruct our cells to start building protection against the virus that causes COVID-19. However, the material never enters the cell’s nucleus, which is where our DNA is kept.

Can COVID-19 vaccination affect fertility?

There is no evidence to suggest that COVID-19 vaccines cause infertility. No licensed vaccines of any type cause infertility.

Why is it necessary to receive multiple doses of each vaccine?

Some vaccines need more than one dose for complete immunity or to protect against mutated viruses. Each dose is crucial for safeguarding against severe infectious diseases.

Deborah G. Smith, BSN, MPH, Ph.D., is assistant professor of public health at LSU Health Shreveport.


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