Vaccine Safety and the Importance of Immunization

More than two centuries have passed since the first successful vaccine for smallpox was developed. We've come a long way since. Today's vaccines are among the 21st century's most successful and cost-effective public health tools for preventing disease and death. Thanks to immunizations, debilitating and often fatal diseases like polio, that were once common, are now only distant memories for most Americans.

Currently there are vaccines available to protect children and adults against at least 17 diseases, which cause serious afflictions such as paralysis, loss of hearing, infertility and even death.

From infants to senior citizens, timely immunizations are one of the most important ways for you to protect yourself and others from serious diseases and infections. If you're a parent, the New York State Department of Health, the 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've received all the vaccinations recommended for adults (PDF, 70KB, 2pg.).

Certain groups of people may need special vaccinations. For example, first-year college students living in dorms should be immunized against meningitis. Travelers going abroad to foreign countries where diseases that aren't common in the United States exist, such as typhoid fever and yellow fever, may need additional vaccines before their trips. Measles, rubella, mumps and polio also may be a risk during foreign travel.

The New York State Department of Health's Bureau of Immunization is here to help you find reliable information on vaccines and immunizations. Our goal is to help reduce the likelihood of vaccine-preventable diseases by making sure children, seniors and everyone in between receive the vaccines they need. The Bureau's mission is to assure that:

  • All children have access to vaccines;
  • Health care providers are aware of immunization standards of practice;
  • The latest recommendations on new vaccines are available to health care providers;
  • Health care providers and the public have up-to-date answers to vaccine questions.

If you have a question about vaccinations 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.