Vaccines and Immunization

Vaccines are one of the great public health achievements. Thanks to vaccines, serious and often fatal diseases like polio, that were once common, are now only distant memories for most Americans.

Vaccines are the safest way to protect you, your children and your community from a long list of serious and potentially life-threatening illnesses. Vaccines protect you by preparing your immune system to recognize and fight serious, and sometimes deadly, diseases including:

From infants to senior citizens, getting vaccines on time is one of the most important ways to protect yourself and others from serious diseases and infections. If you are a parent, the New York State Department of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics all recommend that you keep your children up-to-date with the recommended vaccination schedule. It's also important for adults to be sure that they have received all the vaccines recommended for adults.

Vaccines teach your body's immune system to recognize infections so it can fight them off in the future. This video helps explain how vaccines work with your immune system to keep you from getting sick:

When you get vaccinated, you not only protect yourself but you also help protect the people around you who might be too young or too sick to get vaccinated themselves. This is called "community immunity" or "herd immunity". If enough people stopped getting vaccinated, outbreaks of now-rare vaccine-preventable diseases, such as measles, could return.

The New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) Bureau of Immunization is here to help you find reliable information on vaccines and immunization. The Bureau's mission is to reduce illnesses, complications and deaths from vaccine-preventable diseases in New Yorkers of all ages. Our goals are to assure that:

  • All New Yorkers have access to vaccines;
  • Students in New York State schools, child care programs, colleges and universities are protected against vaccine-preventable diseases;
  • Complete, accurate, and real-time immunization records are securely maintained and easily accessible to healthcare providers in the New York State Immunization Information System; and
  • Healthcare providers and the public have up-to-date information on immunization recommendations and standards of practice and accurate answers to vaccine questions.

If you have a question about vaccines and you live in the five boroughs of New York City - Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens or Staten Island - please call the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene's Immunization Hotline at 347-396-2400 or visit their website for more information.

In New York State outside of New York City, please contact the NYSDOH Bureau of Immunization at 518-473-4437 or by email at immunize@health.ny.gov.