Vaccines are a vital part of healthcare at all stages of life and offer the best protection available against many potentially devastating illnesses. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) encourages parents to follow an immunization schedule for babies and young children, protecting them from fourteen life-affecting diseases. Pre-teens and teenagers should begin to inoculate against meningococcal diseases (meningitis or septicemia) and HPV (Human Papillomavirus, which can lead to cancer). Adults should continue to protect themselves with a yearly flu shot, tetanus updates, and later in life the shingles and pneumonia vaccines.
An important element of immunization awareness is to protect our populations through “herd immunity” — when a high percentage of a population has immunity against a contagious disease either from vaccination or having the disease that they protect individuals who have not developed an immunity. Babies are protected by their mother’s immune