Why Vaccines Matter
Vaccination is one of our most powerful weapons against disease worldwide. It has eradicated diseases that once affected many people. And it continues to save lives. Studies estimate that in the United States alone, 42,000 of the 4.1 million children born each year would die early deaths from diseases if not for vaccines.
An article published by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2014 estimated that in the U.S. over a 20-year period, vaccines could:
- Help avoid 21 million hospitalizations
- Avert 732,000 deaths
- Save an estimated $295 billion in direct costs, and
- Save $1.38 trillion in total social costs.
Worldwide, those numbers are even more staggering. Over one billion children have been vaccinated in the last decade. Studies estimate that vaccinations prevent 2-3 million deaths every year. Immunizations are one of the most successful and cost-effective health interventions.
What is herd immunity?
The term “herd immunity” or “population immunity” has been making headlines recently. This concept is important in disease protection.
Vaccines work with the body’s immune system. They train the body to create antibodies to fight disease, so even if someone is exposed to that disease, they will not get sick or spread it to others. To achieve herd immunity in a community, most people need to be vaccinated so the disease cannot spread through them.
This herd immunity protects people who cannot receive certain vaccinations due to health conditions. If people stop getting vaccinated, it can weaken herd immunity.
Two common vaccine misconceptions
Misconceptions about vaccinations have been steadily growing in the United States.
Studies have shown that vaccines are safe. Still, a growing number of people are choosing not to vaccinate themselves or their children. This can put the entire community at greater risk for health issues.
One common myth is that the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine can cause an increased risk for autism. This theory originated from a study done in 1997 that has since been discredited by several studies. None of them found a link between any vaccines and the likelihood of developing autism.
Another common misconception is that vaccines contain unsafe toxins. The Food and Drug Administration requires rigorous testing for all vaccines. For a vaccine to receive its approval, they must be safe. Some vaccines contain trace amounts of chemicals, but they are proven safe during testing.
Informing your staff
Because vaccines are so important, consider discussing them with your staff. You might encourage your employees to seek immunization. You could also help make vaccines accessible by hosting a vaccination clinic at your office.
Many vaccinations are covered by health insurance as preventive care. If you or your employees have any questions about immunization, talking to a doctor or a trusted provider is a great place to start.