Did you know that when a large proportion of the community is vaccinated, the chances of spreading illness is greatly reduced? It is called herd immunity and it helps protect those who cannot be vaccinated – such as very young children, infants, or individuals who cannot be vaccinated because of age or health problems.
Getting vaccinated protects not just yourself – but also you family, friends, neighbors and even those you encounter at events and while shopping. One infected person can spread illness to many others – and often before they have symptoms of illness themselves.
According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), nearly two-thirds of those 65 and older have never had a shingles vaccine. More than 40% are not current with tetanus shots, nearly one third have not received the pneumococcal vaccine and about another third skipped the flu shot last season. Vaccine-preventable illness drove up health care costs $4.8 billion dollars!
How effective have vaccines been?
Vaccines have nearly eradicated five infectious diseases in the United States. These include:
- Small pox (Down 100%! Perhaps the greatest population health achievement of all time!)
- Polio (Down 100%! Another achievement that saved untold lives.)
- Diphtheria (Down 100%!)
- Mumps (Down 99%!)
- Measles (Down 99%!)
For all the progress, some success is fragile. For example, this summer, Minneapolis experienced the largest outbreak of measles in nearly three decades. 94% of the cases occurred in children under the age of 17. 90% of those with who came down with measles were not vaccinated. (Image how much worse it could have been if so many children were not on summer break!) Measles is very contagious and kills about 160,000 people per year globally.
So protect yourself – and others. Regardless of your age, keeping current with vaccinations is important for everyone.