Nurse preparing a flu shot

Immunizations Myths and Misconceptions

As pharmaceutical companies race to create a vaccine for COVID-19, it’s a good time to understand the basics of why vaccines are so important and how they contribute to the immunity of a population against a disease.

“Natural immunity is, of course, important; however, obtaining natural immunity for these diseases that we now have vaccines for such as measles or polio, to name just a few, is always far more dangerous than acquiring that immunity from the disease itself,” said Kelly DeJager, clinical pharmacist at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. “If you were to get the measles, for example, before we had this vaccine available, it would infect three to four million people a year in the United States, and of those, several hundred would die from the disease. So you have that risk with the natural immunity that you don’t with the vaccine acquired immunity.”

On the latest episode of A Healthier Michigan Podcast, hosted by Chuck Gaidica, he and DeJager discuss the benefits of immunizations and common myths.

Listen to the podcast here:

While many people may think that immunizations work specifically to protect themselves from diseases, they actually have a much bigger function – to protect the health of those around them.

“They protect people by producing immunity. They’re going to reduce the risk of not just infection, but also many of these different diseases have complications from an infection, some of them could be lifelong,” DeJager said. “Those are the main benefits of the vaccine, is just by protecting you from getting the actual infection, protecting those around you, and then also just reducing the risk of complications.”

History has shown the ability of widespread vaccination to nearly eradicate diseases like polio. But without continued use of vaccines, devastating diseases can return – like in 2019, when there was an outbreak of measles in Oakland County.

That’s why it’s critical for both children and adults to stay up to date on the recommended vaccination schedule – even despite disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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