With the beginning of school around the corner it is time to catch up on vaccinations for the young, the seasoned, and everyone in between. For a brief reminder: most vaccines are inactive (killed by heat, chemicals, or radiation); or contain a weakened or altered (attenuated) form of the bacteria or virus. This way your immune system produces its own antibodies to fight the vaccine components as if you actually had contracted the disease. Vaccines help create immunity without ever having to contract the disease.
Because of vaccinations, many of the younger generations have never seen diseases like polio, measles, rubella, and diphtheria. While only one disease, smallpox, is considered eradicated, there are many diseases considered controlled due to vaccines: diphtheria, rubella, and polio for example. “More than 15,000 Americans died from diphtheria in 1921, before there was a vaccine. Only one case of diphtheria has been reported to CDC since 2004. Rubella (German measles) in 1964-65 infected 12½ million Americans, killed 2,000 babies, and caused 11,000 miscarriages. In 2012, 9 cases of rubella were reported to CDC” (CDC, 2015, What).
With recent scares about measles which has previously been considered controlled in the United States, we encourage everyone to make sure they are caught up on all CDC recommended vaccinations. If you have questions concerning your vaccination status, make an appointment with your primary care provider to go over your vaccination history and get caught up. Children under the age of 18 throughout the state of Idaho have their immunizations tracked on Idaho’s Immunization Reminder Information System (IRIS) website. Even if you have lost your children’s immunization records during your recent move, your provider’s nurse can make a new record from IRIS. Here are some recommendations to help you know when you and your family need vaccines.