The importance of vaccines can’t be overstated. Vaccines have saved millions of lives and are one of the primary reasons why we live in a nation of healthy citizens. Unfortunately, these important medical tools gained an unfounded reputation as being dangerous. Simply said, vaccines are safe. While most people think of them as primarily for children, adults and seniors need to get vaccines throughout their lives to maintain their health and well-being.
According to Scientific American, the preponderance of medical evidence shows that the side effects of vaccines are short-lived and consist of superficial reactions such as a swelling or a lump at the injection site. Of course, nervous parents searching the internet can easily find unsubstantiated anecdotes and frantic blogs about vaccination dangers. But a calm, metered search for validated information from reliable sources will reveal they’re safe and effective.
The World Health Organization (WHO) noted that vaccines are safe. Specifically, the organization addressed the origin of the concerns about autism. The WHO referenced a study that autism appeared to be connected to the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine. That paper was eventually retracted by the publisher because of serious problems with the paper’s methodology and analysis. The public reaction to the study, however, led to decreased immunizations and several outbreaks. To this day, there’s no scientifically reviewed evidence that should concern parents about vaccination safety.
Adults tend to think that only children need vaccines. However, the importance of vaccines remains high throughout life. Adults need annual influenza vaccinations. But they also need to be vaccinated against diseases, like shingles, that appear later in life. According to the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, being treated with vaccines is as vital to health as lifestyle factors such as eating right and exercising. Vaccines are also a critical component of preventive medicine on par with screening for colon cancer and breast cancer. The ease and convenience of vaccinations mean people of all ages should inquire about necessary shots.
For adults traveling outside of the U.S., vaccines against diseases that have been nearly eradicated in North America but may be active on other continents are necessary. Diseases that haven’t plagued the U.S. for generations are still an everyday problem for people in developing countries.
Vaccines serve a greater function in society beyond personal health; they also support public health. Specifically, the flu vaccine helps prevent the disease from spreading to the most vulnerable. While most adults who get the flu vaccine aren’t at risk of dying if infected, they do become carriers of an illness that’s easily spread to the more vulnerable populations. Getting vaccinated is a simple way to reduce the number of carriers.
Because vaccines have been regularly used in society for several generations, it’s easy to overlook their value. Most of us haven’t seen a world ravaged by the disease and death that comes when these tools aren’t commonplace. While every adult should ask treatment questions, patients also should listen carefully to medical experts and worldwide research that show vaccines are a critical part of maintaining personal and public health.
Dylan Murray has an MBA from San Diego State University and a bachelor’s degree in communication from Boston University. He’s a licensed insurance agent in California, but he works as a professional researcher and writer reporting on business trends in estate law, insurance and private security. Dylan has worked as a script analyst with the Sundance Institute and the Scriptwriters Network in Los Angeles. He lives in San Diego, California, and Marseille, France.