June 10, 2019

It is estimated that 40,000 to 50,000 adults in the United States die annually due to vaccine-preventable illnesses.

Vaccines are about the only medical intervention that you can do one time and impact your health or prevent diseases for many years.

"In my career here, I have seen the impact of many vaccines," said Fred Kerns, MD, infectious disease specialist. "Almost none of the vaccine-preventable diseases are around now, such as mumps, measles and chicken pox. That's proof that vaccines do work."

In fact, Kerns says most of the serious outbreaks we see in the U.S. begin when someone travels to a foreign country where vaccinations do not occur.

"Antibiotics have to be taken two to three times daily, diet and exercise are ongoing, but a good vaccine will protect you for many years."

"Our society tends to be reactive versus proactive. We spend a lot of money to treat an illness instead of a vaccine that could have prevented it."

Scientists are looking toward some major diseases, such as HIV, hepatitis C, tuberculosis and malaria, for future vaccine development.

In general, we hear about the importance of children being vaccinated. However, it's just as important, if not more so, for adults.

"As we get older, things we used to tolerate might kill us," Kerns said. "Our immune system gets worse, our lungs don't tolerate sickness as well and that vaccine may be the safety net that keeps you alive."

It's more convenient than ever before to receive vaccines. They are available in most drug stores and urgent cares. 

Talk to your health care provider about what vaccines you should be getting or visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

For more information about vaccines and other health topics, visit the CAMC Health Information Center at http://healthinfo.camc.org/.

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