How Vaccines Work Community Immunity Preventable Diseases Parental Responsibilities
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Up next: Vaccines are safe
Up next: information about vaccine-preventable diseases in the u.s.
Up next: Community immunity
Up next: Learn about preventable diseases
Up next: Symptoms of Measles
Up next: Mumps
Up next: How mumps is spread
Up next: Rubella
Up next: The biggest dangers of rubella
Up next: Polio
Up next: The symptoms of polio
Up next: Hepatitis A and B
Up next: Diphtheria
Up next: Pertussis (whooping cough)
Up next: How pertussis is spread
up next: tetanus (lockjaw)
Up Next: how people usually catch tetanus
Up next: Varicella (chickenpox)
Up next: Meningitis
Up next: Your responsibilities during an outbreak
Up next: How long your child will need to stay home
Up next: Prepare for an outbreak
Up next: Protect your child with vaccinations
Up next: A Quiz
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vaccination education

This is an educational tool for anyone who chooses not to give their child vaccinations
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During the next 15 minutes, you'll learn:

  • Why vaccines are important
  • How community immunity works
  • The symptoms of diseases that are preventable with vaccinations
  • Your responsibilities if you choose not to vaccinate your child

There will be a few multiple-choice quizzes, but your answers will not be recorded.

What are Vaccines?

Vaccines teach your immune system what an invasive microbe looks like. This allows your body to protect itself from specific diseases. It is a natural process that uses your body’s own natural defense system to keep you safe from serious illnesses.

Vaccines make use of your body’s strengths and protect you from diseases that could do serious harm.


Vaccine Side Effects

Side effects are usually minor.

Mild effects may include:

  • Headaches
  • Joint pain
  • Abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea
  • Low grade fever
  • Fatigue

Though uncommon, reactions at injection area, such as bruising, tenderness, redness, itching, or a small lump may occur. On rare occasions, more serious allergic reactions may occur.

For more information about vaccine side effects, visit Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The risks of vaccines are much lower than the risks of the diseases they prevent.

A life-threatening allergic reaction to a vaccine is very rare. It occurs about once in every one million vaccine doses.

Vaccines Are Safe

Vaccines are a safe and effective way to protect your health. Numerous studies demonstrate there is no connection between vaccines and autism.

Vaccines have saved millions of lives, and their value to our health cannot be overstated.

Source: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/pinkbook/downloads/appendices/E/reported-cases.pdf

Reported Deaths From Vaccine-Preventable Diseases, United States

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Source: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/pinkbook/downloads/appendices/E/reported-cases.pdf

Reported Deaths From Vaccine-Preventable Diseases, United States

Swipe Graph to View More

Source: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/pinkbook/downloads/appendices/E/reported-cases.pdf

Reported Deaths From Vaccine-Preventable Diseases, United States

Swipe Graph to View More



Why do we need vaccines?

To keep us safe from serious illnesses
To prevent us from getting a cold
We don’t—those diseases don’t exist anymore
Correct! Vaccines teach your body how to fight off diseases.

What is Community Immunity?

When the vast majority of a population is vaccinated, it protects the people who cannot be vaccinated. This includes:

  • Babies
  • Seniors
  • Those with certain medical conditions

Because of the low vaccination rate, protective levels of community immunity in Utah are declining and thus risks are increasing. This means children who are not vaccinated have a high risk of contracting and spreading disease during an outbreak.

When enough people are vaccinated, contagious disease will not spread.




What is community immunity?

When your white blood cells form a herd to attack a disease
Immunity that occurs with the majority of a population is vaccinated—this protects those who cannot be vaccinated
Immunity that comes from living with someone who has been vaccinated
Correct! Because some people cannot be vaccinated, it’s important that the rest of the population is immunized to help protect them.


Intro to Measles

Measles is a disease that causes fever and red spots on the skin.

This disease spreads to others through coughing and sneezing. Infected people can spread measles to others from four days before to four days after the rash first appears. It is so contagious that if someone has it, 90% of the unvaccinated people close to that person will also become infected.

Symptoms of Measles

A person with measles may experience mild symptoms such as:

  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Runny Nose
  • Red or watery eyes
  • White spots inside the mouth

Those infected with measles may also experience serious symptoms such as:

  • A rash of red spots that may cover the entire body
  • A fever of 104° F or more

Measles can cause serious health problems, especially in children less than five years old.

At least one out of 1,000 people with measles will die, even with the best medical care.

Symptoms of Mumps

Mumps is a contagious disease defined by fever and swelling around the lower jaw.

Symptoms of mumps include:

  • Fever
  • Puffy cheeks
  • Swollen jaw
  • Swollen salivary glands
  • Headaches
  • Muscle aches
  • Loss of appetite

Adults with mumps will occasionally experience serious complications, such as meningitis, deafness, and infertility.

The Spread of Mumps

People with mumps are likely contagious before the salivary glands begin to swell and up to 5 days after the swelling begins. Mumps is spread through:

  • Coughing, sneezing, and talking
  • Sharing items such as cups or eating utensils
  • Touching objects or surfaces with unwashed hands

Symptoms of Rubella (German Measles)

Rubella is a contagious viral disease that spreads through coughing and sneezing. The symptoms are often mild, including:

  • Rash
  • A fever lower than 101°F
  • Swollen glands
  • Cold-like symptoms
  • Aching joints

Though the symptoms are not severe, rubella carries an additional risk for pregnant women.

Rubella Can Cause Birth Defects

There is at least a 20% chance of a child having birth defects if a woman is infected in early pregnancy. These birth defects include:

  • Deafness
  • Heart problems
  • Intellectual disability
  • Possible death

Intro to Polio

Poliovirus is a serious disease that affects the nerves in the spine and can make a person permanently paralyzed (unable to move certain muscles).

Polio spreads through person-to-person contact. It can spread through the cough, sneeze, or feces of an infected person. People who don’t have symptoms can still pass this virus to others and make them sick.

Symptoms of Polio

A person with polio may experience flu-like symptoms such as:

  • Sore throat
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Stomach pain

A person with polio may also experience more serious symptoms that affect the brain and spinal cord. These symptoms include:

  • Tingling or a feeling of pins and needles in the legs
  • Meningitis, which is an infection that causes swelling around the brain and spinal cord
  • Paralysis
  • Weakness
  • Possible death

Hepatitis A and B

Hepatitis A and B are closely related diseases that are caused by different viruses. They both cause swelling of the liver.

Hepatitis A is spread though objects, food, drink, or feces of an infected person.

Hepatitis B is spread though bodily fluids, so an infected mother can give her baby the virus during birth. Hepatitis B can lead to liver cancer.

Symptoms of Diphtheria

Symptoms of diphtheria may include:

  • Weakness
  • Sore throat
  • Fever
  • Swollen neck glands making it difficult to breathe

Coughing, sneezing, or touching surfaces with unwashed hands can spread diphtheria from person to person.

In the advanced stages, diphtheria can damage the heart, kidneys, and nervous system. Up to 3% of people who contract diphtheria will die of it, even with medical treatment.

Diphtheria is rare in the United States only because of widespread vaccination against the disease.

Intro to Pertussis (Whooping Cough)

Pertussis is a respiratory tract infection that develops in stages. The early stage usually starts with cold-like symptoms, including:

  • Runny nose
  • Low fever
  • Occasional cough
  • Apnea (a pause in breathing)

In many people, pertussis is recognized by a severe hacking cough followed by a high-pitched intake of breath that sounds like a "whoop."

Initially, pertussis looks like the common cold, so it is often untreated until it is in the late stage. During this stage, coughing becomes severe and can last for more than 10 weeks, which is why it is also known as the “100 day cough.”

Listen to learn why it’s called "whooping cough."

Sound taken from whoopingcough.net with the permission of Dr. Doug Jenkinson.

The Spread of Pertussis (Whooping Cough)

Pertussis is highly contagious. Those who are infected are the most contagious until about 2 weeks after the cough begins.

Pertussis primarily affects children too young to have completed all of their vaccinations and adults whose immunity has faded. It is generally less severe in teenagers and adults, but they can spread it to infants who will usually need to be hospitalized.

Intro to Tetanus (Lockjaw)

Tetanus is a serious disease that causes spasms of the muscles, especially the jaw.


  • Jaw cramping
  • Fever and sweating
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Uncontrollable muscle spasms
  • Seizures
  • Weak bones
  • Pneumonia
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Possible death

10-20% of tetanus cases are fatal.

Sources of Tetanus

Tetanus bacteria are part of our environment and can be found in dust and soil. The bacteria can get into the body through broken skin. For example, a person may contract tetanus from wounds that have been contaminated with dirt, feces, or saliva. People also get tetanus from burns or objects puncturing the skin.

Thanks to the tetanus vaccine, cases of tetanus are rare in the United States. However, the disease is still dangerous to those who aren’t up to date on their vaccinations.

Symptoms of Varicella (Chickenpox)

Chickenpox is a common childhood disease and is rarely dangerous, but it can cause serious symptoms in infants and adults.

These symptoms include:

  • A rash that spreads across the body and turns into itchy blisters
  • High fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Headaches
  • Tiredness

Chickenpox is very contagious, especially to those who have never had the disease or vaccine. The virus spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Touching an infected person’s blisters can also spread chickenpox.

Immunocompromised children are at high risk for hospitalization from chickenpox. Before the vaccine, this disease would hospitalize about 11,000 people and kill around 100 people each year in the U.S. alone.

Children usually miss 5–6 days of school or childcare because of chickenpox.

Symptoms of Meningitis

Meningitis is an inflammation of the brain and spinal cord usually caused by a virus or bacteria. Viral meningitis is serious, but not usually as severe as bacterial meningitis, which spreads quickly and can be life threatening. Symptoms include:

  • Sudden fever
  • Headache
  • Stiff neck
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Confusion
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Most outbreaks of meningitis occur in the college-aged population. Many infected with meningitis will suffer long-term consequences, including:

  • Brain damage
  • Hearing loss
  • Amputation
  • Organ damage



How contagious is measles?

Not very—it is only spread by blood contact, so you don’t have to worry about it
Somewhat—there is a slight chance you’ll contract it if you live with someone who has measles
Very contagious—90% of unvaccinated people close to an infected person will contract the disease
Correct! Measles is very contagious because it is spread through coughing and sneezing.


How long do people experience symptoms after catching pertussis (whooping cough)?

Two or three days
A week at most
Up to 10 weeks
Correct! Pertussis is sometimes called "the 100 day cough."


How many people who contract tetanus (lockjaw) will die from it?

Correct! Tetanus is rare in the U.S. because of vaccinations, but 10–20% of cases are fatal.


At what age are people most likely to catch meningitis?

Elementary school (ages 5–10)
High school (ages 14–18)
College (ages 18–22)
Correct! Though people can catch meningitis at any age, outbreaks are most common in college populations.


Your Responsibilities

If you choose not to have your child vaccinated, you will have to take extra precautions in the event of a disease outbreak in your area.

During an outbreak, your child:

  • May not go to school
  • Should not leave home for any reason
  • Should not have contact with others
  • Will be expected to complete missed schoolwork

You must take these precautions in order to protect your child and to keep an outbreak from growing. This is especially important when a population does not benefit from community immunity.


Want a reminder about how community immunity works?

Stay at Home

The amount of time a child will have to stay home depends on the disease.

  • Measles: 21 days home from school
  • Mumps: 26 days home from school
  • Rubella (German measles): 21 days home from school
  • Pertussis (whooping cough): 21 days home from school or after 5 days of antibiotics
  • Diphtheria: 14 days of antibiotic therapy

Make a Plan

If you choose not to have your children vaccinated, you will need to make a plan so you will be prepared for an outbreak.

The plan should include:

  • Childcare when the children cannot attend school
  • A tutor to help your children with schoolwork
  • Explaining to your children that they cannot attend school activities or extracurricular events
  • Financial backup in case you become sick and are unable to attend work

Vaccinations Are Simple

  • You can vaccinate your child at your local health department.
  • You can find your local health department and vaccination clinic at www.immunize-utah.org
  • Most pediatric clinics will vaccinate your child without a doctor’s appointment.
  • If you are concerned about the cost of the vaccinations, the health department can work with you to find a solution.

Locate An Immunization Clinic



How long will unvaccinated children have to stay at home in the event of a disease outbreak?

None—they can go to school as usual
A day or two
Up to 26 days depending on the disease
Correct! Disease outbreaks are very serious, and unvaccinated children put the community at risk.


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