By Rachel Bocchino

This is part 1 of a 5 part series this week (July 29-August 2).

As the number of summer days begins to dwindle, our attention turns to the annual back to school to-do list.  Whether September brings a first day of kindergarten or college, there is one essential that holds a permanent spot on everyone’s list – up to date vaccinations.

Vaccines have been successfully preventing dangerous diseases and saving lives for centuries.  Yet as of late, their reputation is under attack.  Regardless of where the ambush of misinformation is coming from, it is time that fact is separated from fiction so that we can keep ourselves and our loved ones as healthy as possible.  In celebration of August as National Immunization Awareness Month, each day this week we will set the record straight.  Here is our first myth about vaccination and the truth behind it.

Myth 1: The recommended number of vaccines will overwhelm the body.

The goal of immunization is to make our strong immune systems even stronger.  There are a large number of vaccines recommended for small children, but that is only because there are a large number of infections that can make small children extremely ill.  Our immune systems are continuously bombarded with foreign substances every day.  The food we eat and the dust we inhale are not sterile!  When compared to the trillions of germs that our bodies battle each day, the small number of weakened or killed germs that make up vaccinations seems like a breeze.

Not only is the human body amazingly resilient, but due to advances in chemistry and technology, vaccines are purer and safer than ever.  Two hundred years ago, children received a single vaccine: smallpox.  This one vaccine contained more germs than the amount contained in the 14 vaccines given to young children today combined!

Check back tomorrow to find out the truth behind another immunization myth.

Call your primary care physician to get you or your child vaccinated! If you don’t have a doctor, call the Mayor’s Health Line at (617) 534-5050.

Vaccination Schedules from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

Recommended vaccination schedule for ages 0-6 years

Recommended vaccination schedule for ages 7-18 years

Recommended vaccination schedule for adults

For more information on vaccination, check out Immunization Basics from the CDC or call the Boston Public Heath Commission at (617) 534-5611.

Rachel Bocchino is the IDB Social Media Outreach Intern for STI Education.  She attends the College of the Holy Cross, is a Classics Major/Chemistry Minor and in the Pre-Health Program.  She will graduate in 2014.