Vaccines help prevent people from getting sick. They also help reduce the spread of disease to others and prevent epidemics. There are many kinds of vaccines. Each vaccine is made up of parts of weakened or killed bacteria or viruses of a specific disease. After you have a vaccine, your body's immune system makes antibodies to fight the disease. If you are exposed to the same disease in the future, the antibodies kill the bacteria or viruses before they have a chance to make you sick.
If you get a vaccine, it may not completely prevent you from getting a disease, but it makes it much less likely. If you get a disease even after you have been vaccinated, it usually will be only a mild case.
Vaccines are usually given by shot (injection). Some are given by mouth as a pill or liquid, or by a spray (aerosol) into the nose. Vaccines are also called immunizations.
In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other national organizations advise people about which immunizations they should get and when. Immunization schedules are for healthy children, teens, and adults as well as for people who have health problems and other circumstances, including pregnancy, asthma, or diabetes. To see or print a list of recommended immunizations based on your age, past immunization history, and other factors, see the CDC immunization schedules at www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/index.html.
Children and teens in the United States usually need proof that all their immunizations are up-to-date before they can start school or day care. Also, students of any age entering college usually need to have a written record showing that their immunizations are up-to-date.
For more information on when to get vaccines, see the topic Immunizations.
The CDC may recommend certain immunizations for people who are going to travel to a foreign country. For more information, see the topic Travel Health.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) creates Vaccine Information Statements (VISs), which have details about most vaccines given in the United States. The VISs are updated when needed.
The information in these statements does not change often. Each VIS explains why to get the vaccine, the risks from the vaccine, what to do if you or your child has a moderate or severe reaction, and more.
If you have any questions about a vaccine, see the CDC website www.cdc.gov/vaccines, or talk to your doctor.
There are Vaccine Information Statements for:
|Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Vaccines and Immunizations|
|1600 Clifton Road|
|Atlanta, GA 30333|
This CDC website has information about vaccines and the diseases that can be prevented by immunization. It includes the recommended immunization schedules for children, teens, and adults. You can also find information about vaccine side effects and safety, school and state requirements, and immunization records. Interactive schedules are also available.
|Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Travelers' Health|
|1600 Clifton Road|
|Atlanta, GA 30333|
The CDC's Travelers' Health Web site provides health information for the traveler. The Web site provides information on immunizations that are needed for travel to various areas of the world. It also provides information for safe travel, including traveling with children and with people who have special needs. Information about current outbreaks of disease in the world is also provided. The CDC is the leading federal agency for protecting U.S. citizens' health and safety by providing credible health information and health promotion.
Other Works Consulted
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2013). Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP): Recommended immunization schedules for persons aged 0 through 18 years and adults aged 19 years and older — United States, 2013. MMWR, 62(01): 1. Also available online:
|Primary Medical Reviewer||John Pope, MD - Pediatrics|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||William Atkinson, MD, MPH - Public Health and Preventive Medicine|
|Last Revised||February 15, 2013|
Last Revised: February 15, 2013
Author: Healthwise Staff
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