Vaccines safety and effectiveness: how aware are you?

Dr. Len Friedland takes some time to answer college senior Kristan Justice's questions about adult immunization before heading back to campus.

Dr. Len Friedland takes some time to answer college senior Kristan Justice's questions about adult immunization before heading back to campus.

Today, vaccines are available to protect the public from more diseases than ever before.

Many common, devastating, and infectious diseases have been reduced to a very rare occurrence  through vaccinations. As a pediatrician in training in the late 1980s, I personally witnessed the impact of vaccination with my patients.

Scientific knowledge about vaccines has increased vastly since 1796 when Edward Jenner discovered that having an infection of cowpox could protect from getting an infection of smallpox. But even in countries with highly-educated populations such as the US, many people exhibit some degree of hesitancy about vaccination. Unfortunately, much of this is driven by irresponsible misinformation and pseudo-science.

That's why every August the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Public Health Information Coalition sponsor National Immunization Awareness Month to draw attention to the safety and benefits of vaccination.  

A great place to start is by learning about the vaccines babies need. The CDC’s vaccine website for parents explains the diseases vaccines prevent, shows immunization schedules, explains the possible side effects, and discusses how to comfort your baby during vaccine visits.

Adults need vaccinations as well, and you’re never too old to get up to speed. You can find everything you need to know at the CDC’s vaccine website for adults.