Immunizations are key to staying healthy, fit

| August 20, 2010 | 0 Comments

Carlla E. Jones
Health Systems Specialist, U.S. Army Public Health Command (Provisional)

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUNDS, Md. — Why are immunizations so important? 

It is always better to prevent a disease than to have to treat it later, as immunizations were developed to prevent disease in the people who receive them. Immunizations also help protect people who come in contact with others who have not been immunized. 

Immunization-preventable diseases like influenza, tetanus and measles can cost Soldiers and families time and money due to doctor visits, lost duty and training time, and hospitalizations. Plus, when children get sick with immunization-preventable diseases, their parents must often lose time from work.

Who should get immunized? Each person has a unique medical profile that includes current overall health, use of prescribed medications and family and personal disease history, which can affect decisions about immunizations. In addition, some people should not be immunized, or should wait to get certain immunizations as advised by medical personnel. 

Soldiers and their families should work closely with their health care providers to choose the best overall health strategy, including choices and timing of immunizations.

Soldiers getting ready to deploy may require additional immunizations for diseases such as hepatitis A, hepatitis B and typhoid/paratyphoid fever, depending on the health risks they will face in the deployed location.

How do immunizations work? Weakened forms of disease germs are injected into the body. The body makes antibodies to fight these invaders, so if the actual disease germs ever attack the body in the future, the antibodies will still be there to destroy them.

How do people react to immunizations? In most cases, immunizations are effective and cause no side effects, or just cause mild reactions like a fever or soreness at the injection site. Or, sometimes, people who receive an immunization do not respond to it, and may wind up getting the illness anyway. 

Very rarely, serious allergic reactions occur after receiving an immunization. In order to help avoid an allergic reaction, Soldiers and their families must tell their health care providers about any known allergies to medications or food, like eggs.

Although immunizations have reduced most immunization-preventable diseases to very low levels in the U.S., many diseases are still quite common, sometimes at epidemic levels, in other parts of the world. 

Soldiers and Army civilian employees who are deployed or on temporary duty in other parts of the world can unknowingly bring these diseases back to the U.S. If the general population is not protected by immunizations, these diseases could quickly spread to a lot of people, causing an epidemic here in the U.S.

A successful immunization program depends on everyone being involved to make it work. So, “take one for the team,” and make sure personal and family immunizations are up-to-date. 

Consider immunizations as a key weapon in the battle against immunization-preventable disease.

 

For more information, visit Military Vaccine Agency at www.vaccines.mil/default.aspx?cnt=disease/diseaseHome and the Center for Disease Control at www.cdc.gov/vaccines/.

 

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