Immunization is the process by which individuals are protected from infection with bacterial or viral illness through the injection or ingestion of substances that create an immune state.
Please note: Immunization recommendations can change as new vaccines are developed. For the most up-to-date information, please visit the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention National Immunization Program at: http://www.cdc.gov/nip/
When you get an infection, your body reacts by producing substances called antibodies. These antibodies fight the disease and help you get over the illness. The antibodies usually stay in your system and help protect you from getting the same disease again. This process is called immunity.
Although newborn babies are immune to many diseases (because they have their mother's antibodies), that immunity wears off during the first year of life. To assure continuous protection against diseases, we need to vaccinate (immunize) children and adults.
First, the germs that cause the disease (killed or weakened viruses, bacterial molecules, or inactivated toxins) are made into vaccines. Then these vaccines are given either orally (drops) or intramuscularly (by injection). These vaccines fool the body into thinking it is under attack by the disease and the body reacts by producing antibodies. Consequently, when the person is exposed to the actual disease, they are protected.
If I am a healthy adult, should I be immunized?
Are the risks/reactions to the vaccinations different in adults than in children?