Immunity is the body’s way of preventing disease. The diseases that immunity prevent can be dangerous, or even deadly. Vaccines reduce the risk of infection by working with the body’s natural defenses to help it safely develop immunity to disease.
When germs, such as bacteria or viruses, invade the body, they attack and multiply. This invasion is called an infection, and the infection is what causes illness. The immune system then has to fight the infection. Once it fights off the infection, the body is left with a supply of cells that help recognize and fight that disease in the future.
Vaccines help develop immunity by imitating an infection, but this “imitation” infection does not cause illness. It does, however, cause the immune system to develop the same response as it does to a real infection so the body can recognize and fight the vaccine-preventable disease in the future. Sometimes, after getting a vaccine, the imitation infection can cause minor symptoms, such as fever. Such minor symptoms are normal and should be expected as the body builds immunity.
Immunizing helps to protect the health of our community, especially those people who cannot be immunized (children who are too young to be vaccinated, or those who can’t receive certain vaccines for medical reasons), and the small proportion of people who don’t respond to a particular vaccine.
Vaccinations Offered at the Health Department
Dtap (Diptheria, Tetanus, Pertussis-C)
Hepatitis A (C, A)
Hepatitis B (C, A)
Influenza, Live, Intranasal (C)
Influenza, Inactivated (C, A)
Measles, Mumps, Rubella (C,A)
Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Varicella (C,A)
Tdap (Tetanus, Diptheria, Pertussis -A)
Td (Tetanus, Diptheria-C,A)
Adults need to call the health department and see if they qualify for the vaccine.
How to Locate Your Vaccination Records
If you need official copies of vaccination records, or if you need to update your personal records, there are several places you can look:
- Ask parents or other caregivers if they have records of your childhood immunizations.
- Try looking through baby books or other saved documents from your childhood.
- Check with your high school and/or college health services for dates of any immunizations. Keep in mind that generally records are kept only for 1-2 years after students leave the system.
- Check with previous employers (including the military) that may have required immunizations.
- Check with your doctor or public health clinic. Keep in mind that vaccination records are maintained at doctor’s office for a limited number of years.
- Contact your state’s health department. Some states have registries (Immunization Information Systems) that include adult vaccines.
What To Do If You Can’t Find Your Records
If you can’t find your personal records or records from the doctor, you may need to get some of the vaccines again. While this is not ideal, it is safe to repeat vaccines. The doctor can also sometimes do blood tests to see if you are immune to certain vaccine-preventable diseases.