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Military Health System

Immunizations

GIF with text about flu symptoms Vaccines are the main reason for the global eradication of naturally occurring smallpox, and near-eradication of polio and measles in the United States. Vaccines are important tools that:

  • Protect individual health and the overall health of a population.
  • Protect against disease infection and preserve medical readiness
  • Prime the immune system to fight off viruses, bacteria and other threats.

When disease cells invade the body, they attack and multiply. This invasion is called an infection, and the infection is what causes illness. The immune system then has to fight the infection. Once it fights off the infection, the body is left with a supply of cells that help recognize and fight that disease in the future.

How Vaccines Work

Vaccines develop similar immunity without ever presenting an infection, by introducing weakened or dead disease cells into the body that cause the immune system to develop the same response it does by infection. You may have minor side effects, such as:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Nausea

Most side effects subside within 24-48 hours and are part of the normal process of building immunity. More serious reactions can occur, but are extremely rare.

Immunization health is a lifelong process – from conception to the golden years, with specific vaccines and schedules indicated for all age-specific populations.

The military, which has historically played a major role in advancing vaccination science, offers an immunization regimen that often leads to greater protection against more diseases for Service members and their families.  Service Members and their families should always consult with their physicians to ensure they receive the appropriate vaccinations at the appropriate times.

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Last Updated: November 01, 2022
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