Immunization has been called the most important public health intervention in history, after safe drinking water. It has saved millions of lives over the years and prevented hundreds of millions of cases of disease.

None of us wants to see our children and our loved ones get sick. Getting immunized can protect you and your children from a number of very serious diseases.

Why It Is Important to Immunize

Immunizations protect you, your family, and your community.

  • Recent outbreaks of mumps, varicella (chickenpox), measles, and pertussis (whooping cough) remind us that serious diseases still exist in our community.
  • Every year, children are hospitalized and some die from influenza (flu) and the problems it causes.
  • Immunizations save lives and prevent common but serious illnesses, diseases that are rare but still exist, and diseases common in other parts of the world.
  • Some people cannot get vaccinated, such as people with conditions that weaken their immune system, like leukemia. Vaccinating helps keep your child healthy and your community healthy, too.
  • Children who are not immunized or not fully immunized are at risk for serious preventable diseases. Check out CDC’s recommended childhood immunization schedule.
  • Adults need immunizations too. Make sure your immunizations are up-to-date, especially if you take care of children or the elderly.

Vaccines are Safe

  • Held to the highest safety standards by the Food and Drug Administration, vaccines must go through many tests before use.
  • All recommended vaccines for children under 3 years of age are thimerosal-free (thimerosal is a preservative that contains ethylmercury).
  • Scientific evidence shows no connection between any vaccine and disorders such as autism.
  • Serious side effects from vaccines are very rare.

Ask! It’s OK to Have Questions!

  • Ask your doctor or nurse about recommended immunizations at any visit!
  • Talk with your doctor, nurse, or clinic about your immunization questions.
  • Work with your health care provider to develop an immunization plan for your child.

Japan reduced pertussis vaccinations, and an epidemic occurred.

In 1974, Japan had a successful pertussis (whooping cough) vaccination program, with nearly 80% of Japanese children vaccinated. That year only 393 cases of pertussis were reported in the entire country, and there were no deaths from pertussis. But then rumors began to spread that pertussis vaccination was no longer needed and that the vaccine was not safe, and by 1976 only 10% of infants were getting vaccinated. In 1979 Japan suffered a major pertussis epidemic, with more than 13,000 cases of whooping cough and 41 deaths. In 1981 the government began vaccinating with acellular pertussis vaccine, and the number of pertussis cases dropped again.