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National Immunization Awareness Month

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By: burgundy bug

National Immunization Awareness Month: #ivax2protect

Source: National Immunization Awareness Month Graphics | The Centers For Disease Prevention and Control

August is National Immunization Awareness Month. And with the word “vaccine” buzzing around now more than ever, let’s take a moment to explore the science behind how they work.

A Bit of Context…

“National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM) is an annual observance held in August to highlight the importance of vaccination for people of all ages.”

Source: National Immunization Awareness Month | The Centers For Disease Prevention and Control

How Vaccines Work

An explanation of the Immune System by Crash Course

Source: Immune System, Part 1: Crash Course A&P #45 | Crash Course

Much like our gastrointestinal tract is home to 100 trillion microbiota, our entire bodies are walking, talking germ hosts.

Read: Think With Your Gut

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Some of these germs make us sick —like Staphylococcus. These are bacteria that live on our skin and in our noses that generally don’t cause us any harm. That is, until they colonize deeper into the body.

At that point, staphylococcus causes a staph infection that must be treated with an antibiotic, says Mayo Clinic. Various types of staph infections include:

  • Skin infections
  • Toxic shock syndrome
  • Septic arthritis
  • MRSA (antibiotic-resistant staph)

As the body is exposed to a disease, the immune system becomes more efficient at fighting it off.

“The first time the body encounters a germ, it can take several days
to make and use all the germ-fighting tools needed to get over the
infection,” the CDC says. “After the infection, the immune system remembers what it learned about how to protect the body against that disease.”

When a disease infects the body, the immune system produces B-lymphocyte and T-lymphocyte white blood cells that have antibodies to fight off the infection. They’re essentially the body’s little soldiers waging a war with harmful bacteria and viruses.

A vaccine mimics an infection by exposing our body to small amounts of the disease, but rarely ever causes an actual infection to occur. It may cause side effects, such as fever or fatigue, without making you completely ill.

This faux-infection causes our body to produce those little soldiers and teach them how to combat the diseases.

Over time, widespread vaccinations cause immunity on a large enough scale to render a disease rare or completely eliminated. This has been the case with small pox, which hasn’t infected anyone (that we know of) since 1977, says the World Health Organization.

However, some viruses, like the flu, mutate rapidly.

As the flu spreads from body to body, it becomes better at finding vulnerabilities in the immune system. That’s why flu vaccinations are updated annually and only work against a few common strains of the flu.

Some vaccines also require more than one dose to create immunity. Other vaccines wear off over time and must be updated to keep up immunity.

Child Vaccinations

“On-time vaccination throughout childhood is essential because it helps provide immunity before children are exposed to potentially life-threatening diseases.”


The CDC has the following guidelines for when to vaccinate children:

  • Ages 0 to 2 years-old:
    • Chickenpox
    • Diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DTaP)
    • Flu
    • Haemophilus influenza type b (HiB)
    • Hepatitis A
    • Hepatitis B
    • Measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR)
    • Pneumococcal (PCV13)
    • Polio (IPV)
    • Rotavirus (RV)
  • Ages 3 to 10 years-old:
    • Chickenpox
    • Diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DTaP)
    • Flu
    • Measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR)
    • Polio (IPV)
  • Ages 11 to 18 years-old:
    • Flu
    • Human papilloma virus (HPV)
    • Meningococcal conjugate
    • Serogroup B meningococcal
    • Tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (Tdap)

Adult Vaccinations

Although most immunization shots are completed throughout childhood and adolescence, adults still need to get vaccinated, too.

The CDC recommends the following for when to vaccinate adults:

  • Annual vaccinations: Flu
  • Every 10 years: Tetanus and diphtheria (Td)
  • Healthy adults over the age of 50: Shingles
  • Healthy adults over the age of 65: Pneumococcal conjugate followed by pneumococcal polysaccharide.

“Adults may need other vaccines based on health conditions, job, lifestyle, or travel habits,” the CDC adds.

What About the Coronavirus Vaccine?

Right now, there’s a race around the globe to create a safe and effective vaccine for COVID-19. The National Institutes of Health announced on July 27 that the Phase three trial for an investigational COVID-19 vaccine has begun.

Read: On the Bright Side of COVID-19: Placentas and Vaccines

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In the meantime, keep wearing your masks, washing your hands, and stay at least six-feet apart from other individuals.

Don’t share food, beverages, cigarettes, vape pens, joints, etc… with others. You should probably avoid kissing booths and hook-up apps, too.

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burgundy bug


A cynical optimist and mad scientist undercover, burgundy bug is the editor, graphic designer, webmaster, social media manager, and primary photographer for The Burgundy Zine. Entangled in a web of curiosity, burgundy bug’s work embodies a wide variety of topics including: neuroscience, psychology, ecology, biology, cannabis, reviews, fashion, entertainment, and politics. You can learn more about working with burgundy bug by visiting her portfolio website: burgundybug.com

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