Be a Vaccine Superhero: Spare Yourself and Others From Disease
Aug 18, 2015

Written by Every Child By Two intern, Linn H.

As students of public health, through our courses and fieldwork, we often have the opportunity to travel the globe and work with populations from all walks of life. However, with these great opportunities comes a great responsibility to protect others by protecting ourselves.


I’m not saying we all need to be like Spider-Man here, or that we’re heroes with great power. But I do think that knowing you could have done something to prevent a certain fate is an important lesson.

Take for example the recent case of a Washington Women who died as a consequence of contracting measles at a local medical facility. Since she was on medication that suppressed her immune system, this tragedy illustrates the importance of immunizing those that are healthy in order to provide a high level of community protection to those who are more susceptible to illness.

This case illustrates the fact that many individuals rely on healthy adults like myself to help prevent the spread of dangerous and even deadly diseases. Infants too young to be vaccinated, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems (like those undergoing cancer treatment) are especially vulnerable to infectious disease.

That’s why it’s important for adults to become educated on the recommended adult vaccines.  If we fail to get routine vaccinations as an adult, we put those around us and ourselves at risk.

As adults, there is often this misconception that vaccines are just for children, but we never outgrow the need for immunizations.

Vaccines are recommended throughout our lives based on age, lifestyle, occupation, locations of travel, medical conditions and vaccines received in the past.

Even if you were fully vaccinated as a child, the immunity that you received from some of the vaccines you were given can wear off.  Vaccines not only prevent against illnesses that we’re susceptible to as adults, but they help protect others we come into contact with such as the very young, the very old, people with weakened immune systems, and those who cannot be vaccinated.

Some of the vaccines recommended for adults are highlighted on a spreadsheet here and include:

  • Influenza (flu) vaccine each year to protect against seasonal flu.  Flu vaccine reduces your risk of heart attacks or other flu related complications among people with pre-existing health conditions like asthma, diabetes, heart disease and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).
  • Tdap booster vaccine to protect against pertussis (whooping cough), tetanus, and diphtheria, at least once every 10 years but more often if you are around young babies.  In addition, pregnant women should receive a Tdap vaccine each time they are pregnant, preferably at 27 through 36 weeks.
  • Other vaccines – such as shingles, pneumococcal, hepatitis, HPV – are dependent on one’s age, occupation, travel, health status, vaccination history, and other risk factors.  For instance, Hepatitis B vaccine reduces your risk of liver cancer and HPV vaccine reduces your risk of cervical, penile, throat, anus and various other HPV-related cancers.

Despite the availability of life-saving vaccines, approximately 42,000 adults and 300 children in the United States die each year from vaccine-preventable diseases.

While we all get busy and may forget to prioritize our routine immunizations, this is exactly the reason why we need to be vigilant.  We are too busy and have too much responsibility to risk getting sick. Vaccinations help keep us healthy so we don’t miss school or work, and so that we can continue to be the superheros that we are and save the world one meaningful interaction at a time!

I challenge you to embody a little bit of SPIDER-MAN this week.  Be a hero and review your immunization history with your doctor to ensure you have received all the vaccines you need to keep yourself and your love ones protected.


If you’re unsure of which adult vaccines you may need, take this quick quiz and discuss your medical and immunization history with your doctor to find out which vaccines are recommended based on your age, health, job, lifestyle, and other factors.

Vaccines are not only available at private doctor offices, but also in such convenient locations as pharmacies, community health clinics and health departments.  If you need help finding a vaccine provider near you, try searching the HealthMap Vaccine Finder site.

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29 responses to “Be a Vaccine Superhero: Spare Yourself and Others From Disease”

  1. Terri Lloyd says:

    Thought you might like this article 🙂

    Terri Lloyd, RN, MA
    Director, Clinical Operations
    Children’s Health Network
    Phone: 612-813-7466
    Fax: 612-813-7458

    >>> Shot of Prevention 8/18/2015 10:51 AM >>>

    everychildbytwo posted: “Written by Every Child By Two intern, Linn H. As students of public health, through our courses and fieldwork, we often have the opportunity to travel the globe and work with populations from all walks of life. However, with these great opportunities c”

  2. Dave says:

    Thanks anyway but I won’t be injecting any adult vaccines. I very rarely get sick due to the fact that I’ve never had any vaccines. The latest science is showing that the more vaccines you take the more compromised the immune system becomes.. bring on the autoimmune diseases, cancers, immuno deficiencies, increased viral load, infection, inflammation. Keep your aborted fetal tissue laden vaccines to yourselves. So unbelievable how so many people have become brainwashed thanks to Big Pharma and the heavily influenced drug pushers. Mass vaccinations are not the answer.

  3. Lawrence says:

    And yet you show no actual proof or evidence to back up your “opinion.” In fact, vaccinations have been a key component in the massive drop in infant mortality rates worldwide and the increase in our lifespan.

    If vaccines were so horrible, why do we now have the longest lifespans and lowest mortality rates in human history?

  4. Jimbo says:

    Hi lawrence,

    What proof do you have that vaccines are responsible for long life spans and low mortality rates? Correlation does not equal causation.

    Plus, those lose long life spans and low mortality rates will be changing soon when the current accelerated schedule of vaccines catches up with everybody and causes cancer, auto-immune diseases, etc as Dave mentioned above.

  5. novalox says:


    [citation needed] for your assertions, since you brought up the assertions contrary to facts.

  6. Jimbo says:

    Hi novalox,

    The facts are that there are many studies showing various vaccines causing injuries, illnesses, and diseases, etc. Those are the facts.

  7. Lawrence says:

    @Jimbo – then please provide those “studies.”

  8. novalox says:


    Please provide evidence for those studies, or we can assume that you are lying to us.

  9. Lindy says:

    Dave, How do you know your good health is due to not having received an vaccines?


    Correlation Does Not Equal Causation???

    The phrase “correlation does not equal causation” is often misused and misunderstood. A single bivariate correlation would not be used to infer causation; but, then again, almost never do scientist/epidemiologist infer causation from a single study. In addition, the statistic often used in research, regression, is just an algebraic transformation from the Pearson correlation, in essence the two formulas are two sides of the same coin. Part of the difference between correlation and “causation” is the design of the study, whether a descriptive/observational/exploratory study or testing a hypothesis. Many studies use multiple regression statistics which, again are just an algebraic transformation of a partial correlation. A partial correlation factors out the influence of one or more variables on the dependent variable to look at the variance between the two variables of interest. Institute of Medicine reviews of vaccine safety are based on numerous studies, including animal, in vitro cell cultures, and various epidemiological designs (Available at:{43C096A7-F094-43D0-985A-B6BF561A7C5D}. Note that the IOM reports can be read online or, by signing up, downloaded as pdfs.

    Causal inferences can and are made from epidemiological studies. For those interested, I recommend the following three books:

    Rothman, Kenneth J. (1988) Causal Inference. Chestnut Hill, MA: Epidemiology Resources Inc.

    Rothman, Kenneth J. & Greenland, Sander (1998). Chapter 2: Causation and Causal Inference and Chapter 8: Precision and Validity in Epidemiologic Studies in Modern Epidemiology, Second Edition. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

    Susser. Mervyn (1973). Causal Thinking in the Health Sciences: Concepts and Strategies in Epidemiology, New York: Oxford University Press.

    Copies of Rothman’s excellent books are available at many university libraries and inexpensive used copies can be obtained on Amazon marketplace. Susser’s book is one of my all time favorites, though long out of print, many university libraries have copies and a few copies are available on Amazon marketplace.

    Vaccines and Life Expectancy

    It is estimated that approximately one billion people died from smallpox the 100 years preceding the World Health Organization’s Smallpox Eradication Program, begun in 1967. Smallpox killed up to 1/3 of those infected, mainly children, and left many blind and almost everyone disfigured. One can follow the statistics on smallpox cases region by region, country by country as the WHO program progressed. Since life-expectancy is calculated by the average years of life, obviously if many children die young, then life-expectancy is lower. For those who don’t believe the vaccine responsible for the pattern of smallpox cases that followed the WHO program, they would have to come up with an alternative hypothesis, e.g. better sanitation, better health care (there wasn’t then and still isn’t an effective treatment for smallpox), better nutrition, etc. Yet, smallpox was eliminated from the poorest of the poor countries. Though not as devastating in numbers; but certainly in outcome for those affected, one can follow the WHO polio elimination program and find a similar pattern. In the US, through the 1950s, about 50,000 cases of measles required hospitalization, 400-500 died each year, and, perhaps, 1,000-2,000 suffered permanent disabilities, e.g. blindness, seizure disorders, mental retardation. Following the development of a measles vaccine in 1963 the number plummeted in a few short years to a few dozen at most. What change in the US could explain such a rapid plummeting other than the vaccine?

    Healthy, Never Sick, Don’t Need Vaccines?

    In the 1960s I bought my first car, an inexpensive used one. It had lap seat belts and without thinking I automatically buckled up and required everyone in my car to do likewise. This was long before laws mandated their use or even public health campaigns encouraged people to use them. When I purchased my current car, I researched safety features. I don’t drink and consider myself a careful driver. Fortunately, I have never been in an auto accident and I hope I never will. Actually I was in one; but was seven years old. However, regardless of how careful I am, there are those who text while driving, drive under the influence, etc. Will all the safety features, including buckling up, save me from serious injury or death if in an accident beyond my control? Maybe not; but they improve my chances considerably. Just because I’ve never been in an accident certainly doesn’t mean I should stop buckling up, even if the law stopped mandating it.

    In January 1970 I was in grad school. After playing volleyball, I showered and went to my office to do some work. I should mention that I was quite healthy, mostly vegetarian, and NEVER smoked. After about two hours I started to feel poorly, including a headache. I managed to get to my car and drive home. The next morning I woke up and could barely move. I called a couple of friends who came and drove me to the university clinic. I won’t go into the details; but I was then rushed to a hospital. I had a secondary opportunistic kidney infection. I was immediately given antibiotics (antibiotic resistance wasn’t a major issue at the time) and a week later, 25 lbs lighter, and extremely weak, I was discharged. Fortunately, a follow-up found the antibiotic had prevented any damage to my kidneys. I probably got what was called “the Hong Kong flu.” I developed a “healthy” respect for the flu and have been vaccinated every since. A couple of times I have had minor flu-like symptoms; but nothing serious. Can I be certain the vaccines protected me. NO; but diet and exercise are my only alternatives, so, based on extensive study of flu research and my conclusion is the vaccine can sometimes completely protect me, other times lessen the severity, reduce the risk of hospitalization and potentially death. Since death from flu is mainly from opportunistic bacterial pneumonia and as antibiotic resistance increases, the risk increases also. That was, so far, the most frightening episode of my life. It was over 45 years ago and I still remember how I was feeling fine and a few hours later found myself in a hospital. Keeping healthy is partly determined by our actions, diet, exercise, hygiene, and vaccines, and partly by luck, whether we are actually exposed to a microbe or not which, in turn, depends on the infectivity, dose, and duration of the exposure. Over the past 45 years, as I wrote above, I have been quite healthy. During this time I have “nursed” friend during flu epidemics, visited friends in the hospital, and not become sick. Maybe, just maybe, it was worth getting the vaccine!

    My car safety features will only protect me if I am actually in an accident. My overall health, diet and exercise, may prevent some infections and with luck I may not be exposed to others; but, if I am, I have done the best I can by getting vaccinated. It only takes once. Just because someone has been healthy isn’t a guarantee. Get a case of the flu like the one I experienced over 45 years ago and you may wish you had gotten the vaccine.

    Do Immunizations Weaken Our Immune Systems?

    On any given day our bodies, including those of children, are exposed to up to 10,000 microbes through the air we breath, food and water we eat and drink, and small scratches on our skin. These microbes are alive and well. At the most, one may get vaccines for 10 or fewer microbes; but these are either killed or severely weakened. If our immune systems are designed to deal with an exponentially larger number of natural microbes, how can a few killed or weakened overload it?

    See “Do Vaccines Overload Our Immune Systems?” on page 25 of my Every Child By Two Expert Commentary article: Wrong About Measles, Cancer & Autism: A Review of Dan Olmsted’s Article “Weekly Wrap: Measles, Cancer, Autoimmunity, Autism” (Age of Autism, May 17, 2014)
    by Joel A. Harrison, PhD, MPH May 28, 2015 Available at:

    Vaccine Safety

    Not only the CDC; but health authorities in many countries have conducted numerous studies on vaccine safety, including looking at autism, autoimmune diseases, etc. See the CDC web site for Vaccine Safety at: and then to their resource library at:
    It includes an extensive list of studies by year as well as additional information. Read also the Institute of Medicine’s Studies (see above). Antivaccination websites have articles written often by people who lack the basics of microbiology, immunology, epidemiology, etc. They cherry pick a few studies that confirm their rigid beliefs without the skills to evaluate these studies. The reason scientists require numerous studies, including replications, is that chance variations can lead to misleading results. If a study randomizes between two groups of people to “ensure” the groups are equalized on known and unknown variables that might affect the outcome, there is NO guarantee that a single randomization process succeeds. I can put 20 women and 80 men in a hat and draw 20 for each of two groups. There is a small; but real possibility that one group will get all women and the other all men. Of course, with gender we can avoid this; but what about other unknown factors, e.g. genetics, diet, history of exposure to pesticides and other chemicals? When we do numerous studies, the cumulative chances of one group getting more of some unknown variable decreases. Most antivaccinationists don’t even know how to judge the sampling scheme, reliability and validity of measures, etc. If the study finds the results they want, it is “well-done.” If it finds results that contradicts their rigid beliefs, it is fraudulent, poorly designed, part of some mythical conspiracy.

    I realize that several of the commenters will not be swayed by anything I write. For the rest of you, I hope the above was helpful. And, if you want to take the time, read my rather long articles at Every Child By Two’s Expert Commentary page,

    My articles are long because I want to make sure I have supported every point I make with extensive quotes and references. Since I sometimes refer in one article to a previous article, best to read from bottom to top, chronological order.

    I’m old and these articles take a lot of time and effort, often three or more months. My next one should be ready some time in September.

  11. soubanh says:

    Lindy, that’s a great question for Dave. Hopefully Dave will answer your question. But let’s make this conversation a little more interesting. For those that may be on the fence about vaccines, I’m going to direct the same question to Lindy and All pro vaccines proponents. How do You know the vaccines(any vaccines ) work? Due to the lack of trust and conflict of interest between the CDC and the pharmaceutical I think is fair to avoid using their studies or research. Maybe reference personal or independent study. For example, I’m always wondering how two people getting a vaccine(Flu,whooping,meningitis etc ) and the results could be one of them still get sick? I need explanation please. Or I’ve even seen cases where 100% flu vaccinated and All or half still get the flu. And I would here dumb statements like “I’m glad I had my shots otherwise I’d be sicker “?Really? OK both sides get my point. Go with your answers.

  12. Lindy says:

    We can do titers and see if the vaccinated person developed antibodies. Now, technically, that doesn’t ALWAYS mean immunity, but usually it does. The other way to know vaccines work is to look at disease rates for specific diseases between vaxed and unvaxed people. The vaxed always come out on top.

  13. Lawrence says:

    Well, Soubanh – you could always just look at the public health data for the last 100 years or so:

    or this, specifically:

  14. Lawrence says:

    And, because we know that vaccines aren’t 100% effective (there will always be a small percentage of outliers who don’t get immunity from the vaccination), these individuals could potentially get sick, should they be exposed during an outbreak.

    This is why “community immunity” is so important, so that these individuals are surrounded by as many immune people as possible, so they never get exposed.

    The Flu and Pertussis are special cases – the Flu has multiple strains, so it is always possible to be infected with a strain that you aren’t vaccinated against (or already immune) – the virus mutates rapidly, and current research is focused on areas of commonality between the viruses, to create a more “universal” vaccine that would only need to be given once.

    Pertussis is a bacteria – and like all bacteria, immunity is fairly short (even natural Pertussis only grants immunity for 2 – 20 years).

    Which brings up the last point – even getting the disease naturally is no guarantee of immunity – there are many cases of people getting sick with measles, mumps and chicken pox multiple times, because their body never developed antibodies.

    Again, this is why vaccines are important – to prevent these diseases from coming into contact with people who are vulnerable. And for diseases that have no host but other people, if you vaccinate enough people, these diseases can be eradicated.

  15. Lawrence says:

    Dr. Harrison – can I copy and paste your response elsewhere, with appropriate attribution?

  16. Joel A. Harrison, PhD, MPH says:

    Hi Lawrence:

    You are quite welcome to copy and paste my article. However, I made a few minor revisions that strengthen it and they should have it posted soon, so if you wait until, say, tomorrow, you will have a better version. If you have a webpage, please give me its name and URL so I can see what else you have posted. If you want a clean version of the my revised comments in MSWord, send an e-mail to: and I will e-mail a copy to them which they can forward to you. I prefer not to give out my e-mail address on blogs.


    Joel A. Harrison, PhD, MPH

  17. Lawrence says:

    Thank you Dr. Harrison – I’ve sent out an email.

  18. Christine Vara says:

    Lawrence, Dr. Harrison provided some minor edits to his previous comment but they have been reflected in what is posted above. We are grateful for his contributions and are glad that you are sharing his comments.

  19. jgc56 says:

    “Due to the lack of trust and conflict of interest between the CDC and the pharmaceutical I think is fair to avoid using their studies or research.”

    In other words, “That evidence doesn’t count. Because I say so”? No, that isn’t fair at all.

  20. Lawrence says:

    My pleasure Christine – I have put together a consolidated repository of vaccine information over on Facebook…

    I hope that it will be used, far and wide, to debunk a lot of the anti-vax information out there.

  21. Sandi says:

    As usual, Dr. Harrison’s post is longer than everyone else’s. It seems he is capable of not only reading, but writing more than two sentences at a time. The bottom line is that vaccinations protect not only the person vaccinated, but those around who receive the benefit of not being exposed. That is a total win-win situation.

  22. JLP says:

    Yes Dr. Harrison likes his own anecdotal stories doesn’t he.

    I thought your comment was ironic since the recently vaccinated expose people to these diseases

  23. Joel A. Harrison, PhD, MPH says:

    @soubanh & JLP

    So soubanh, we should just out of hand reject ALL the studies listed by the CDC, studies done over many years by 100s if not 1000s of researchers in different countries, using different study populations, various research methodologies, etc, just because you and some others don’t trust the CDC. No need to actually carefully read the studies and evaluate them. And what about the Institute of Medicine reviews? They include literally 1000s of references from everywhere. Should we reject them too? I guess all that is left is the handful of studies that find results you and other antivaccinationists agree with.

    So, JLP, I included some anecdotes to illustrate a point I was making, not as the key content of my comment; but like many others, you think that a single sentence pointing something out is a valid argument. As for the article you hyperlink to, I’ve read the actual research. Yes, vaccinated people given attenuated not killed vaccines do pass on the attenuated microbe; but little evidence people get sick from it. It does pose a small risk for those with compromised immune systems; but, as with all antivaccinationists, you fail to consider the exponentially greater risk from the natural disease. A very tiny risk for some from vaccinated people vs before the vaccines existed a huge risk from the natural disease. Measles is prevalent in the world. Prior to the measles vaccine we had 40 – 50,000 mainly kids hospitalized every year, 4-500 deaths, and up to 2,000 with permanent disabilities, e.g. blind, seizure disorders, mental retardation. Measles is just as contagious today and our population has doubled and there is still no established treatment. If there were no vaccine, one could easily expect 80 – 100,000 hospitalizations, 800-1000 deaths and perhaps up to 4,000 permanently disable kids. Given that much higher death rates were found from secondary bacterial pneumonia prior to advent of antibiotics and we are now facing ever increasing antibiotic resistance, it is likely that deaths from secondary pneumonias from measles would increase. Without the measles vaccine we are only a plane flight away from natural measles. I won’t bother listing all the other diseases that are but a plane flight away; but it is typical that people like you would read one article, not really understand the implications, and think you understand.

    So, the recently vaccinated DON’T EXPOSE PEOPLE TO THESE DISEASES; BUT TO SIGNIFICANTLY WEAKENED VERSIONS THAT COULD POSSIBLY AFFECT PEOPLE WITH COMPROMISED IMMUNE SYSTEMS. And, if someone with a compromised immune system were to get sick from a significantly weakened microbe, what do you think would happen if they were exposed to the natural microbe?

    I’ll end with a quote about the Dunning-Kruger Effect (note that the RationalWiki article gives references to the original studies)

    “From RationalWiki

    The Dunning-Kruger effect, named after David Dunning and Justin
    Kruger of Cornell University, occurs where people fail to adequately assess
    their level of competence — or specifically, their incompetence — at a task
    and thus consider themselves much more competent than everyone else.
    This lack of awareness is attributed to their lower level of competence
    robbing them of the ability to critically analyse their performance, leading
    to a significant overestimate of themselves. Put more crudely, they’re too
    stupid to realize they’re stupid.

    The inverse also applies: competent people tend to underestimate their
    ability.” (RationalWiki,

    I, for one, am almost always second guessing myself and devote considerable time to reading papers that disagree with me, sometimes changing my mind, sometimes finding some compromise, and often, based on my training and extensive reading, refuting them.

    I specifically mentioned that the RationalWiki article includes references because some people seem to think that they need not take anything seriously that cites Wikipedia. Just another example of poor scholarship, etc. Whatever the source, one still needs to actually address what is said, unless one lacks the intelligence, education, skills, or willingness to put in the time. I often use Wikipedia articles as easy access summaries of some point I want to make; but only if I have actual scientific articles that back my point and Wikipedia both agrees with these articles and gives some of them as references.

  24. Sandi says:

    “Measles may occur among vaccinated individuals, but secondary transmission from such individuals has not been documented.” I appreciate the links but I am not sure you read all of the articles correctly. The very first says nothing about shedding live vaccine, only that persons who have been vaccinated CAN still catch the disease. Note: secondary transmission from such individuals has not been documented.” As in, not proved.

  25. Lawrence says:

    “Not proved, ever.”

  26. Lawrence says:

    And yes, a total win-win for the whole public.

  27. Joel A. Harrison, PhD, MPH says:

    Just in case anyone is interested, ORAC, nom de guerre of Dr. David Gorski, wrote a piece posted on his blog, Respectful Insolence, about the “press release” that JLP refers to and, in a much better writing style than mine, totally debunks it for the dribble it is. You can find it at:

    And just to re-emphasize the literally meaningless comment by JLP of my using anecdotes, did he miss my explanation of association vs causation and the accompanying references or was this and everything else I wrote just above his level of understanding so the only thing he could understand was a concrete illustrative example? For instance, I have probably read a dozen books and well over 100 scientific papers on polio; but what really brought it to life, made it meaningful, besides my mother not letting me go to neighborhood municipal pool and the summer fear people around me expressed when I was young, was the real people I have known in my life who actually suffered from polio. Lots of theoretical knowledge is important; but concrete cases give a life to something that the books and papers can’t regardless of how good ones imagination is.

  28. jgc56 says:

    Dr. Harrison? I suggest you read my post again. You seem to be confusing me with soubanh.

  29. Joel A. Harrison, PhD, MPH says:


    You are right; but it would have been helpful if you started your comment with who you were addressing it to. Sorry about that. Sometimes it is difficult to keep score who is who with the comments. Rereading it and you were actually criticizing soubanh. Good for you! I will ask ECBT if they can change it.

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