For many diseases, prevention may be the most effective treatment plan. Vaccination is considered a safe medical procedure that not only protects those who receive the immunization, but also helps to prevent the spread of communicable diseases. Or more simply, vaccines are the most effective tool we have to prevent infectious diseases, according to the National Vaccine Program Office.
When the measles vaccine was licensed in 1962, there were more than 400,000 cases reported in the U.S. In 2012, there were just 55, according to the CDC. In fact today, a single outbreak, such as the one experienced by visitors to Disneyland in 2015 creates national headlines.
The CDC offers a tool that can help veterans determine which age-appropriate vaccinations they need to protect their health group. A short quiz, available at http://www2a.cdc.gov/nip/adultImmSched/ can help people determine which vaccinations are most crucial for them to receive. At a minimum the VA recommends that all veterans consider receiving vaccinations for influenza; pneumococcal; hepatitis A and B; measles, mumps and rubella (MMR); chickenpox (varicella); shingles (herpes zoster); tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis vaccines. In addition, international travelers may be eligible to receive vaccinations that protect against diseases common in the countries being visited. Vaccination needs can change based on age, so the VA advises veterans to speak with their health care team about additional immunizations that might be wise to consider.