Vaccines are the safest, proven method of preventing adults and children from contracting a wide variety of potentially deadly diseases. Recently, some parents have decided to delay or refuse vaccinating their children due to misinformation about the safety and effectiveness of vaccines. However, research and real-world examples prove that it’s imperative to get vaccinated, for your own health and the health of others you come into contact with on a regular basis.
The recent resurgence of measles in the United States is just one example of how serious the consequences of being unvaccinated against these diseases can be.
Due to a decline in children being vaccinated, more than 1,000 cases of measles have been reported in the U.S. so far this year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
How does the measles virus spread?
The measles virus spreads through coughing and sneezing. A high fever is the first symptom of the virus, followed by coughing, a runny nose and red eyes. The infected person then develops a rash of tiny, red spots starting at the head and spreading down the body. The virus causes severe illness and can lead to death.
There is no treatment that can cure a patient with an established measles infection and it’s an extremely contagious virus.
It is estimated that up to 90 percent of the people in close proximity to an infected person will also become infected if they have not been vaccinated. The only way to prevent contracting measles is getting the MMR vaccine.
When a virus invades the body, it attacks and multiplies. This invasion is called an infection, and this infection results in an illness. The immune system must fight off the infection, then antibodies catalog the signs and symptoms of the infection to recognize and fight it in the future.
Vaccines do not cause illnesses, but help the body develop an immunity to the illness by imitating infections. The vaccine trains the body to develop the same responses as it would if the infection were real. This allows the immune system to recognize and fight vaccine-preventable diseases in the future without being exposed to them.
Early vaccination, and staying current with the vaccines, is especially important in children and infants. There are currently vaccines available for children, and people of all ages, to prevent a number of diseases, including diphtheria, hepatitis A and B, influenza, measles, mumps, whooping cough, pneumococcal disease, polio, rubella, tetanus, rotavirus and chickenpox.
Most new parents have never seen the destructive results that vaccine-preventable diseases have on a family or community, which could be a reason why some choose not to have their children vaccinated.
If you or a loved one have not been vaccinated, make an appointment with a physician right away to protect yourself and others from vaccine-preventable diseases.