Vaccines help prepare your body to respond to potentially dangerous diseases.
When you have a disease, your body builds active immunity. The next time the same germs attack, your body recognizes them and can quickly produce antibodies to fend off the infection.
A vaccine introduces your body to a disease without you getting the illness. It’s like a practice match so your body can prepare in case you’re exposed to the disease later.
Keeping up with the recommended vaccine schedule helps your body build active immunity against 16 diseases.
Vaccines are available for Washington residents at no cost until their 19th birthday. There is no cost for the vaccine, but patients may be charged for the office visit or administration fee. Most insurance plans will cover the costs. Some clinics offer a sliding fee scale for those without insurance.
How do you know vaccines are safe?
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) licenses and monitors all vaccines used in the United States. FDA scientists and doctors evaluate the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness before it is approved. They also inspect the sites where vaccines are made.
Even after a vaccine is in use, the safety system in the U.S. continuously monitors for possible side effects. Our country’s vaccine supply is currently the safest it’s ever been, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Contrary to misinformation circulated over the years, the CDC and FDA agree on the safety of vaccines. There are several systems that monitor vaccine safety, and any issues are promptly reported to health officials. The Snohomish Health District’s Childhood Vaccine Program also works to make sure local providers are safely storing and handling vaccines.
You have the vaccines you need for school. are there more?
Yes. The State Board of Health decides what vaccines are needed for school attendance. Some have been added over time, like the varicella vaccine that protects against chickenpox.
But there are other recommended vaccines that aren’t required for high school. Some colleges will ask you to get a meningococcal vaccine. And the HPV vaccine protects against infections that can cause cancer.
You can find out what vaccines you have by checking with your doctor. You can also contact the Snohomish Health District. The Washington State Department of Health offers an online immunization records system at www.MyIR.net, as well.
Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
Every year, 14 million people in the U.S. become infected with HPV. Half of new infections are in 15- to 24-year-olds.
Most clear up within two years. But longer lasting infections can cause cancer. The most common are cancers of the back of the throat and the cervix, but HPV causes other cancers in men and women.
More than 90% of cancers caused by HPV could be prevented by getting vaccinated before being exposed to the virus.
There’s a new flu shot formula each year, designed to prepare your immune system for the strains of flu virus most likely to circulate.
Flu season is unpredictable. Vaccination is the best protection. Though most people bounce back from the flu, the disease can cause severe complications.
Even if you’re confident you can fight the flu, getting vaccinated protects more vulnerable people – such as young children and the elderly – by building your community’s immunity.
Meningococcal ACWY and Meningococcal B
Meningococcal disease is rare, but potentially deadly.
It progresses quickly and can end in deafness, neurological damage, and loss of limbs.
Even with treatment, meningococcal disease kills 10-15% of the people who get it. About 10% of the population carries the bacteria without signs of illness. It spreads through direct contact with saliva, such as kissing or sharing drinks. It’s most common in 16- to 24-year-olds.
Tetanus, Diphtheria, Acellular Pertussis (Tdap)
The Tdap vaccine protects against three illnesses, all caused by bacteria.
Tetanus, or lockjaw, causes muscle tightening and stiffness. It’s rare, but kills 10% of infected people, even with treatment. It enters the body through cuts or wounds.
Diphtheria, also rare, causes a thick coating at the back of the throat. It can lead to breathing problems, heart failure, and paralysis. It spreads through coughing or sneezing.
Pertussis, or whooping cough, causes violent coughing spells and spreads through coughing or sneezing. Complications from the illness can be deadly, especially in infants. In recent years, Washington state has experienced outbreaks of whooping cough.