Gallatin City County Health DepartmentCommunity Health PartnersBozeman Deaconess Hospital

Do It For Me.

Don't Wait, Vaccinate.

I HAVE AN AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE. While I may look healthy, I have a weakened immune system. That means I’m more likely to catch one of several diseases that I can’t be vaccinated against. Any illness I get can lead to infections, which can have detrimental effects on my weakening health. I’m thankful to be part of a community that cares. Help protect me against preventable diseases like the seasonal flu by vaccinating yourself and your family. Will you please do it for me?


Vaccines have been said to be one of the greatest medical discoveries of our time. Untold lives have been saved because of them. In fact, diseases that were once common were close to being eradicated. Some of us wondered if vaccines were still necessary. But now many of the diseases we thought were gone are beginning to make a comeback because vaccination levels have dropped. And Montana lags behind the rest of the nation in regard to immunizations. Vaccines prevent serious diseases and have helped to lower the rates of these diseases in the U.S. We present this information here to help you make informed decisions about vaccinations.
Childhood Immunization
Vaccines prevent serious diseases and have helped to lower the rates of these diseases in the U.S. By getting vaccinated, children receive protection from these diseases. Vaccines also help to protect communities by slowing or stopping disease outbreaks. This is especially important for children who cannot be vaccinated because they are too young, too sick, or do not respond to vaccines.
Adult Immunization
You never outgrow the need for vaccines. The specific immunizations you need as an adult are determined by factors such as your age, lifestyle, high-risk conditions, type and locations of travel, and previous immunizations. Throughout your adult life, you need immunizations to get and maintain protection against: flu, tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, shingles, pneumococcal, HPV, etc.
Your Questions Answered
Many parents worry about the possible side effects of vaccinating their child and if their child really needs all those shots. Misinformation abounds on the Internet and even in print, making it hard to find a reliable source of information. Below is a list of frequently asked questions and answers.

Why are vaccines important?

Immunizations protect children. Vaccine-preventable diseases can have dangerous consequences, including seizures, brain damage, blindness and even death. Because of the success of the national immunization program, many young parents today have never seen a case of one of these illnesses, but measles, meningitis, chickenpox, pertussis and other diseases exist in the world and would re-emerge here if immunization rates fell. For example, recent outbreaks of measles in the U.S. were traced to unvaccinated children who became infected while traveling in Europe. Likewise, it would only take one case of polio from another country to bring the disease back to the U.S. if children are not protected by vaccination.

Are vaccines safe?

Yes. Today’s vaccines are safer than any in history. Vaccines contain antigens, which are either live but very weakened viruses, inactivated viruses, or small parts of bacteria or viruses that prompt the body to produce protective antibodies without causing the disease. Even though children receive more vaccines now, the total number of antigens is less because today’s vaccines are more refined than older versions. At a very young age, children’s immune systems are equipped to respond to many antigens at the same time, including those in vaccines as well as the ones they encounter in their daily activities such as eating, breathing and playing.

In addition to antigens, vaccines contain ingredients to prevent contamination and improve effectiveness. These ingredients have been found to be safe in humans in the quantities given in vaccines, which is much less than children are exposed to in their environment, food and water. Valid scientific studies have shown there is no link between autism and thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative once used in several vaccines (and still used in some flu vaccine). However, since thimerosal was removed from childhood vaccines in 2001, autism rates have actually increased, supplying further evidence that thimerosal does not cause autism.

Can I delay or skip vaccines?

It is not a good idea to skip or delay vaccines, as this will leave your child vulnerable to diseases for a longer time. Children are most vulnerable to complications from disease in their early years of life, when vaccines provide protection, and some vaccines produce a better immune response at particular ages. Parents should follow the schedule provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Physicians, which is designed by experts to ensure maximum protection and safety for children at various ages. This schedule allows for some flexibility to delay certain shots when advised by a child’s pediatrician due to illness, certain chronic conditions or other medical reasons. Parents should discuss any concerns with their child’s pediatrician.

Is there a link between measles vaccination and autism?

No, there is no scientifically proven link between measles vaccination and autism. Extensive reports from both the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Institute of Medicine and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conclude that there is no proven association between Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism. Autism is a chronic developmental disorder, often first identified in toddlers from age 18 months to 30 months. MMR is administered just before the peak age of onset of autism. This timing leads some parents to mistakenly assume a causal relationship. There is no evidence that MMR causes autism. Increasing evidence indicates that autism is determined while the baby is still in the womb, early in the pregnancy.

For more information, click on the link below.

Why do children receive so many vaccinations?

Vaccines are our best defense against many diseases, which often result in serious complications such as pneumonia, meningitis (swelling of the lining of the brain), liver cancer, bloodstream infections, and even death. CDC recommends vaccinations to protect children against 14 infectious diseases, including measles, mumps, rubella (German measles), varicella (chickenpox), hepatitis B, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib), polio, influenza (flu), and pneumococcal disease.

Why so many vaccines at such a young age?

Children are given vaccines at a young age because this is when they are most vulnerable to certain diseases. Newborn babies are immune to some diseases because they have antibodies given to them from their mothers. However, this immunity only lasts a few months. Further, most young children do not have maternal immunity to diphtheria, whooping cough, polio, tetanus, hepatitis B, or Hib. If a child is not vaccinated and is exposed to a disease, the child's body may not be strong enough to fight the disease.

An infant’s immune system is more than ready to respond to the very small number of weakened and killed infectious agents (antigens) in vaccines. From the time they are born, babies are exposed to thousands of germs and other antigens in the environment and their immune systems are readily able to respond to these large numbers of antigenic stimuli. An infant’s immune system is more than ready to respond to the very small number of antigens in vaccines.

For more information, click on the links below.

Are Chicken Pox parties safe?

Exposing children to the disease does not guarantee they will get it, nor that they will have a mild case. No one can predict which child will have a life-threatening reaction to the disease. While “natural immunity” does tend to be better than “vaccine-induced immunity,” the high price of natural immunity is not a risk worth taking when a safe vaccine is available.

With Pertussis on the Rise, Who Needs a Tdap Vaccination?

Despite the use of pertussis-containing childhood vaccines, cases of pertussis have been on the rise in many communities nationwide, with an increasing burden of disease reported among adolescents and adults. In 2008 there were over 13,000 cases and 20 deaths reported to CDC. In 2005, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, or ACIP, recommended a dose of a combination tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis vaccine -- or Tdap -- for use in 11 through 64 year olds.

Which Vaccines Do Preteens and Teens Need, and When?

Vaccine protection from some childhood vaccines wears off, so your teen needs a booster shot. As kids get older, they are more at risk for catching diseases, like meningococcal meningitis, so they need protection that vaccines provide.

Why aren’t all vaccines 100% effective?

Although vaccines have very high effectiveness rates, they are not completely effective for 100% of the people who receive them. For example, a full series of measles vaccine will protect 99 of 100 children from measles, and polio vaccine will protect 99 of 100 children from polio. This means that when there is a disease outbreak, the very small number of people for whom the vaccine did not work may still be able to catch the disease. Because almost all of our children are immunized, and only few are not, it can be the case that during an epidemic the majority of cases occur among children who were immunized. However, the fact remains that those who have not received the vaccine are much more likely to catch the disease.

Reliable information and resources

You can't trust everything you read, and it's important to apply that rule of thumb whenever you hear or read about immunizations or vaccine safety. Before becoming concerned about what an article is claiming, consider the source. A single article is almost never definitive or conclusive. Science works because multiple people study the same subject from different angles and then develop a collaborative conclusion based on evidence. Given that nearly anyone today can broadcast their opinions and views on nearly any subject, including vaccine safety, make sure the information you're hearing or reading is indeed accurate. Below is a list of reliable sources we've compiled.

Reliable Online Sources

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Childhood Immunization
Adult Immunization
Your Questions Answered
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