Vaccinations are an essential part of both personal and public health, and Americans are fortunate to have access to a wide spectrum of vaccines. Gisela Vargas, MD, and the team at Health First Primary Care in Tampa, Florida, offer the full scope of vaccinations, including flu shots. If you’d like to find out if your immunizations are up-to-date, call the office to book a visit, or spend a few moments on the online scheduling page.
Vaccinations can be thought of as training exercises for your immune system. They offer a chance to build a natural immunity to diseases that can cause serious or even life-threatening disease.
The terms vaccines and immunization are often used interchangeably. Vaccines are the actual substances injected into your body that work to boost your immunity. Immunization is the process of getting vaccines and building resistance to infectious disease.
When bacteria or viruses invade your body, your immune system recognizes that invader, or antigen, and launches a swift response. Special proteins called antibodies are produced that are able to bind to that specific antigen, rendering it harmless.
Once your immune system creates antibodies, they remain present in your system for the rest of your life. If that particular antigen ever returns, your immune system is prepared to quickly and effectively fight off infection.
Vaccines work by introducing a weakened or dead strain of an antigen into your system. This provokes your natural immune response, and you develop the antibodies needed to fight off a full-strength attack. By getting vaccinated as a child, you develop a strong immune system without the need to go through a potentially dangerous illness.
Vaccines protect you as an individual, but they also play an essential role in protecting the community as a whole. When most members of a given community are vaccinated against a specific disease, that disease has an extremely low chance of taking hold within that population.
This is called herd immunity, and it is the reason America does not experience devastating outbreaks of polio, rubella, whooping cough, measles, and many other infectious diseases. Immunization protects the most vulnerable members of society from illness.
You receive most vaccines during childhood. The flu vaccine is a bit different because it is formulated each year to protect against the most common strain of influenza at that specific point in time.
If you’re in overall good health, the flu vaccine is certainly not necessary. However, fighting off a bout of the flu is no simple matter, so many people come in for an annual flu vaccine even if they are in peak physical condition.
Young children, the elderly, and anyone in poor health should consider an annual flu shot. That’s also true if you are routinely around others that fall into those categories, as you can spread an illness even before symptoms develop.
If you’d like a professional review of your immunization record or more information about the flu shot or other vaccinations, schedule an appointment online or over the phone today. If you need help getting back and forth to appointments, ask about the available transportation services.