World Immunization Week is an annual week-long event the last week of April that promotes the benefits of vaccines in the hopes that we continue to protect all people from dangerous diseases. We talked to Dr. Scott Wilson of SIMEDHealth's Urgent Care about what vaccines are why they are so important.
What is a vaccine?
Dr. Wilson says, "A vaccine is a preparation of either biological components, parts of a germ-bacteria or virus, or small amounts of the germ, bacteria or virus, that is used to create active immunity to a particular disease, bacteria, or virus." This process is familiarizing the body with the specific virus, so if it ever comes across it, it will know how to attack it. Someone getting a vaccination begins the process of widespread immunity from it, which is the goal of vaccinations.
Why are vaccines necessary?
The overall importance of vaccines is to help prevent all sorts of dangerous diseases and hopefully over time, eradicate certain conditions that are caused by bacteria or viruses around the world like smallpox and polio, Dr. Wilson says. There is a reason disease such as diphtheria, measles, German measles, whooping cough, and mumps to name a few are so rare. The more people have that disease's vaccine the fewer people that will be susceptible to getting it.
Is there any reason why someone should not or would not be able to get a vaccine?
A primary reason not to get a vaccine is if the patient has ever had a previous adverse or allergic reaction to the vaccine. Dr. Wilson says, "based on the type of vaccine, there are certain times of life, for example, pregnancy, or if a patient has a specific disease that may be contraindicated to getting a particular vaccine." It is possible to check the CDC website to see what the contraindications are for each vaccine.
Also, the CDC has schedules for catch up vaccinations as well as plans for regular adult vaccinations if someone was not vaccinated as a child.
Do vaccines cause autism?
No, there have been scientific studies that do not show any relationship between vaccine use and the development of autism, Dr. Wilson says. There have been lots of talks recently about the possible damages that can be done by vaccinations, but there is no evidence to show that any of that is true.
If someone does not know if they are vaccinated or not, what can they do?
For a majority of the previous vaccine, there are lab tests that can be done to determine if a patient has the immunity of a prior vaccine or if they have had the disease. There are a few vaccines that do not have a blood test to check immunity, such as tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, and influenza.
What are other things you treat at urgent care?
Dr. Wilson says, "We provide following vaccines: Influenza, MMR (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella), Varicella, Tetanus/Diphtheria/Pertussis, Tetanus/Diptheria, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B. We can test for the following titers: Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, MMR, and Varicella. We treat a variety of things from the common cold, flu, sore throat, bronchitis, pneumonia, injuries, lacerations, and sexually transmitted diseases."