Although we do not see vaccine-preventable diseases as frequently due to a higher rate of people getting immunized, these diseases continue to be very serious. Historically, diseases have had high hospitalization and/or mortality rates. Before immunizations were given in the United States, about 6,000 people died each year due to measles. During the 1920s, about 150,000 cases of diphtheria were reported and caused 14,000 deaths annually. Before 1979, about 35,000 people were infected with polio each year. Since then, the United States has been polio-free because of immunizations.
During an immunization, you receive a weakened or inactivated form of the disease, which passes through your body without causing illness. Using this weakened form of the disease, your body produces antibodies and white blood cells to specifically combat the disease, thus providing immunity. For example, in most cases, when a child develops chickenpox (varicella), they get sick but are known to be immune to the disease once they recover. This immunity is developed because the body learns to recognize the disease and its antibodies then work to prevent the child from getting sick again. Immunizations work the same way, except adolescents do not have to be subjected to the possible symptoms of the disease.
Yes, in most cases, immunizations are safe and effective and cause little to no side effects. Most reactions are mild such as fever, a bruise, or soreness at the injection site. Before immunizations are licensed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), they are tested extensively to ensure their safety. Each person is unique and may react differently to an immunization. Very rarely, people have more serious side effects, but the benefits of immunizations far outweigh the risks they may have. Check with your doctor about pre-immunization screening and potential side effects.
Immunizations are the safest and most important way parents can protect their adolescents against vaccine-preventable diseases. The decision to immunize can be the difference between life and death. For more information, contact your healthcare provider, local health department, or the Texas Department of State Health Services.
If your adolescent is exposed to a vaccine-preventable disease without protection, they increase their risk of getting sick. Symptoms of the disease could cause them to have a mild illness, be hospitalized, suffer permanent disability, or die.
There is also a possibility of your adolescent spreading these vaccine-preventable diseases to others if they’re not immunized. This could be especially dangerous if your adolescent comes into contact with someone unable to be immunized, such as immunocompromised individuals, infants, or the elderly.
Adolescents who didn’t begin their immunizations on time or have only gotten some of them can still be caught up. It’s never too late to be fully immunized. For more information on how to get your adolescent back on track with his/her immunization schedule, contact your healthcare provider.
Immunizations may be provided by your healthcare provider, at a nearby health clinic, local health department, or pharmacy. For more information on how to receive immunizations, contact your healthcare provider, local health department, or the Texas Department of State Health Services.
If your adolescent is underinsured (insurance coverage that does not include immunizations or only selected immunizations) or is uninsured, they may qualify for the Texas Vaccines for Children Program. Visit for more information: Texas Vaccines for Children Immunization Unit.
The Texas Immunization Registry, ImmTrac2, provides a consolidated record of your adolescent’s immunizations. This confidential record allows you and your healthcare provider to see which immunizations your teen has received, and which ones remain, allowing your adolescent to stay up to date on his/her immunizations.