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Why Vaccines Are Important

Doctor putting syringe into bottle of clear liquid

Vaccines are important because they prevent or contain the spread of contagious, deadly and dangerous diseases. Vaccines help to build your body’s natural immunity to a disease before you get sick. After vaccination, if you are exposed to the disease, your body has the ability to fight off the disease before you get sick or to fight it to the extent that your symptoms are less severe. Most vaccines use a weakened or dead form of the virus to encourage your immune system to create antibodies to the disease. The common Covid-19 vaccines work differently; they deliver information to your cells to provide genetic instructions to those cells to create a specific viral protein that triggers an immune response.

Two Kinds of Disease

Some vaccines, like smallpox and polio, have been so effective that those diseases have been effectively eradicated. Others, like influenza, have become endemic, which means they continue to circulate in pockets around the World, but because of the availability of annual vaccines and acquired immunity, we can tolerate the seasonal outbreaks of illness without resorting to the type of extreme measures we have taken to check the spread of Covid-19.

It remains to be seen whether Covid-19 will become endemic, like influenza and the common cold, or whether it will be like polio or smallpox, where through widespread vaccination, the disease can be eradicated. In either case, the more people who are vaccinated, the better the chance that we can either eradicate the disease or at least control its severity.

How Vaccines Change the Game

The importance of widespread vaccination is evident from the story of a whooping cough (pertussis) outbreak in Japan in the late 1970s. By 1974, 80% of Japanese children were vaccinated for pertussis, and that year less than 400 cases were reported and nobody died. The following year, rumors spread that the vaccine was not safe, not effective and no longer needed, causing the vaccination rate to plummet such that in 1976, only 10% of children were vaccinated against pertussis. In 1979, Japan suffered a major pertussis epidemic, with more than 13,000 cases of whooping cough and 41 deaths. By 1981, the Japanese government took steps to increase the vaccination rate, and cases dropped again.

In short, vaccines are safe and effective. While there are side effects, most are very mild and serious side effects are exceedingly rare. In the United States, we have a program called the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program that provides compensation to the small number of people who sustain serious injuries from most vaccines.

While the benefits of vaccination far outweigh the risks, if you have sustained an injury from a vaccine, call Faraci Lange and we can determine whether you qualify for compensation under the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.