Southeastern Idaho Public Health

Immunization Facts

Do we still need vaccine?
Vaccines are still given for three reasons:
  • A choice not to get a vaccine is a choice to risk natural infection. For example, every year thousands of children are infected with pertussis and some die from the disease.
  • Some diseases still occur in the United States at low levels. If immunizations rates drop, even by as little as 10 to 15 percent, these diseases will come back.
  • While some diseases have been either completely or virtually eliminated from the United States, polio still paralyzes children in Africa and diptheria still kills children in Russia. Because international travel is common, these diseases are only a plane ride away from coming back into the United States.
Are children too young to get vaccines?

The diseases that vaccines prevent often occur in very young infants. The only way to keep young infants from getting diseases is to give them vaccines in the first few months of life.

If the other children in my community are vaccinated, why should my child be vaccinated?

Even though many children are vaccinated, diseases still exist. If someone with a serious vaccine preventable disease enters your community and your child is not vaccinated, he or she is at risk. In addition, each unvaccinated child is at risk for spreading infection to other unvaccinated children and adults, as well as to persons with weak immune systems.

Can vaccinations overload a child's immune system?

No. Vaccines contain only tiny amounts of viruses or bacteria compared with the large amounts of germs children come in contact with every day. Therefore, a healthy child's immune system should have no problem handling vaccinations, even when several vaccinations are given during a single doctor's visit.

What is a vaccine made of?

Most vaccines contain purified fragments that have been taken from killed bacteria or viruses. Some vaccines contain live viruses, but in a very weak form that does not cause disease.

How do vaccines work?

Vaccines "teach" the immune system how to recognize and fight bacteria and viruses before an infection happens. By giving the body a small "sample" of the germ, it can develop resistance without actually getting the disease.

Who approves and recommends vaccines?

After successful testing in thousands of people, a vaccine is approved (licensed) for us in the United States by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The vaccine is then recommended for use in specific age groups by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), the Infectious Disease Committee of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP).

Does the law require all children in Idaho to be immunized?
  • Yes. All children must be immunized before they enter a licensed child care facility, preschool, or a public, private, or parochial school.
  • Medical, religious, and personal exemptions are available.
  • Children who do not receive their immunizations on time or do not have a signed exemption form, may be excluded from school, preschool, or licensed child care facility in Idaho.
What if I can't afford immunizations?

The Idaho Immunization Program provides vaccine for all children in the state between the ages of 0-18 years of age at no cost to doctors, local health departments, community health centers, and hospitals. In turn, these entities cannot charge for the vaccine itself, but my charge for an office visit and/or vaccine administration fee. However, no one will be denied childhood immunizations at a participating vaccine provider because of an inability to pay this administration charge. There are also programs that can assist you if you have no health insurance or need help finding low cost health care. Call the Idaho CareLine at 211 or (800) 926-2588 for a referral. Adults, check with your insurance plan to see if immunizations are covered. Medicare Part B covers influenza and pneumococcal vaccines.