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Immunizations can be quite confusing, but they are necessary for people of all ages to maintain good health. For example, you need to know what shots are needed at what age, how many, and when to get them.

As your child grows, you need to keep track of their health information, and frankly, it’s a lot. That’s the point of National Immunization Awareness Month — focusing on ensuring that your family is up to date.

The Difference Between Immunization and Vaccination

Bottom line, vaccines protect against diseases. They work in different ways to offer protection, but essentially your body will remember how to fight the virus when/if it enters the body in the future.

The words immunization and vaccination seemed to be used interchangeably quite often, but are they the same? We’ve all become accustomed to the terminology in the era of COVID-19 and determining the difference between vaccinated and boosted.

To put it simply, according to the CDC, immunization is the action of making a person immune to infection, typically through inoculation. Vaccination is theact of introducing a vaccine into the body to produce protection from a specific disease. You can become immune to certain infections or diseases typically through vaccination.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), immunization prevents deaths in all age groups from diseases like diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), influenza, and measles every year. It is one of the most successful and cost-effective public health interventions.

That’s why, annually, health centers like Any Lab Test Now® observe National Immunization Awareness Month highlighting the advantages of vaccinations for all your family members, no matter what age.

Types of Vaccines

When vaccines are created, scientists research how your body or immune system will respond to the disease when a vaccine is present.

Innovative medicine is always working on updating vaccines and improving them to maintain a healthy population. Each type of vaccine is designed to teach your immune system how to fight certain germs that enter the body and the consequent diseases that make you ill.

There are about six different types of vaccines:

  1. Inactivated vaccines – They may contain weakened live viruses that have been inactivated. Protection from this type of vaccine is not as strong as a live virus, so booster shots are often required. To name a few, inactivated vaccines are used to protect against hepatitis A, flu, polio, and rabies.

  2. Messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines – This technology was used to make some of the COVID-19 shots. They have several benefits compared to other types of vaccines, including shorter manufacturing times, and because they do not contain a live virus, no risk of causing disease.

  3. Subunit, recombinant, polysaccharide, and conjugate vaccines – These use specific pieces of the germ — its protein, sugar, or capsid (a casing around the germ). Because these vaccines use only specific pieces of the germ, they give a very strong immune response that’s targeted to key parts of the germ. Examples include hepatitis B, whooping cough, HPV, and shingles.
  4. Toxoid vaccines – These use a toxin made by the germ that causes a disease. They create immunity to the parts of the germ that cause a disease instead of the germ itself. Examples include diphtheria and tetanus.

  5. Viral vector vaccines – These vaccines use a modified version of a different virus as a vector to deliver protection. This type has been used to combat Ebola and Covid-19.

  6. Live-attenuated vaccines – These arecurrently recommended as part of the U.S. Childhood Immunization Schedule and include protection against varicella (chickenpox), rotavirus, and smallpox; also measles, mumps, and rubella (via the combined MMR vaccine).

That MMR vaccine is a very important vaccine for children. The CDC recommends all children get two doses of MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine. Starting with the first dose at 12 through 15 months of age and the second dose at 4 through 6 years of age. As your child grows, they will need proof of this vaccination as they attend daycare, elementary school, high school, and into college as well as to participate in sports. Thanks to this vaccine, we are effective at preventing these diseases.

Should you misplace your child’s immunization record because you moved, changed pediatricians, or simply can’t find it, there is a way for you to determine if your child has immunity.

At Any Lab Test Now®, we can utilize the MMR Titer — a blood test that checks if you are immune to measles, mumps, and rubella. It measures your antibody levels to get a sense of whether your immune system has the capability to respond to an infection with one of these diseases. Take this opportunity during National Immunization Awareness Month to check your family’s status.

School is Back, Take Your Health Back, Too

Any Lab Test Now® makes it easy to prioritize your health and stay on top of your immunizations. As we head back to school, it’s more important than ever to be on top of you and your child’s vaccinations. Ensure you’re taking the steps for yourself and your loved ones to stay protected in settings where you may not know everyone else’s vaccination status.

Any Lab Test Now® is safe, confidential, and convenient for you and your family. We have more than 200 locations across the country. For the best way to start the school year, click here for the nearest Any Lab Test Now® location.