Statistics provided by the CDC show 1 child dies every 20 seconds from a vaccine preventable illness. Children and their families worldwide lack access to one of the most important scientific advancements ever discovered: vaccines. These families struggle to protect themselves, while in the US we have a growing number of “vaccine hesitant” individuals who are increasingly putting their families and our communities at risk.
I am a nurse who has lived in this community for a few years now, and public health and safety is a topic I feel quite strongly about. Diseases which are commonplace in other countries had been nearly eradicated here in the US, due to our past high vaccine rates. Past outbreaks have been shown to have begun in unvaccinated communities before spreading to the general population.
In healthy individuals, most vaccines have a greater than 90% effectiveness rate. For instance, the measles vaccine is 97% effective. This means that while the large majority of vaccinated individuals will not contract the disease, some few still can. Studies show those who contract the disease post-vaccination will have less severe symptoms, as well as be ill for a shorter duration.
There are some individuals who medically cannot be vaccinated, and face greater risk when people fail to vaccinate. Those undergoing chemotherapy; those who have an allergic reaction to an ingredient (all current ingredients are deemed safe for the massive majority of the population); those too young or old to be safely vaccinated; those whose immune system is compromised by immunosuppressive drugs (aka: anyone who has had a transplant) or those born with a compromised immune system; those with HIV / AIDS; and pregnant women. These people need the protection that “Herd Immunity” grants them. This state is achieved when 90% or more of the population is vaccinated against a disease.
I strongly encourage everyone to make sure you and your family are up-to-date on your vaccinations. Don’t fall for the misinformation out there! While there is always a small risk with vaccines, every medication has the possibility of reaction. You may have a small fever or feel “under the weather” after a vaccine - these are expected side effects as your body learns to defend itself from the virus. These things should not prevent you from doing the responsible thing to protect your family and our community: get your vaccinations. Go to iris.iowa.gov to see if you’re up-to-date!