How do vaccine-preventable diseases spread in the United States?

UCLA Health
“People living in the U.S. benefit from herd immunity, which makes it unlikely that certain diseases will spread from person to person because most of us are immune,” explains Julia Blank, M.D., a UCLA family medicine specialist. “The problem occurs when a small percentage of unvaccinated people within communities travel abroad to high-risk areas such as Europe, Asia or Africa, become infected and then bring the diseases back to the U.S.”

Dr. Blank adds that even some people who have received all of their vaccines may be at risk from exposure to unvaccinated disease carriers because most vaccines are not 100 percent effective. The measles vaccine, for example, has a 5 percent failure rate. Additionally, some children may be exposed before they are old enough to receive certain vaccines.

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Vaccines & Immunizations

Vaccines & Immunizations

Vaccines are commonly given to children in the form of a shot to help prevent serious diseases like measles and mumps. Vaccines are developed using either dead strains of a disease, weakened strains, or strains of a different dise...

ase. As adults, we receive flu vaccines or may need a booster of childhood vaccines to retain immunity. Travelers may receive vaccines either as a condition of entry to a country, or on recommendation of health officials. Generally there is little or no reaction to a vaccine, but in some cases the vaccine may cause an allergic reaction or a temporary, mild illness. Some vaccines are not safe for pregnant women, so it’s important to check with a healthcare professional.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.