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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Emergency Responders and Pandemics

A LibGuide detailing some historic pandemics and emergency responses to them.

What is a Vaccine?

"Vaccination is a simple, safe, and effective way of protecting you against harmful diseases, before you come into contact with them. It uses your body’s natural defenses to build resistance to specific infections and makes your immune system stronger. Vaccines train your immune system to create antibodies, just as it does when it’s exposed to a disease."

From the World Health Organization.

Vaccine Safety

Are Vaccines Safe?

Short answer- yes. According to the CDC, the US currently has the safest vaccine supply in its history. The nation’s long-standing vaccine safety system ensures that vaccines are as safe as possible. Vaccines undergo extensive testing prior to being introduced to the public, and are consistently monitored for side effects.

However, vaccines are not risk free. Many vaccines trigger an immune response, leading to fever, headaches, tender arms, and more. That being said, the risks stemming from vaccinations are miniscule compared to the risks associated with the diseases they are working to prevent. Paul A. Offit, MD, explains this concept in the video below.


More readings on the safety of vaccines:

Many attribute vaccine hesitancy to the rise of social media, but the truth is that the United States has a long history of vaccine hesitancy that dates back to the very first vaccine ever developed in 1796! There are many justifiable reasons people are hesitant to get vaccinated, including fear of adverse side effects, as well as personal moral dilemmas regarding an individual's right to choose versus compulsory public health initiatives. While it is important to speak with your doctor before receiving any vaccine, widespread vaccine hesitancy may cause more harm than good.

The articles below provide a glimpse into the history of vaccine hesitancy.

You should always consult with your doctor before receiving any medical treatment. Below are a few resources detailing the safety and effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine to help you make the decision that is right for you.

"Vaccination is an important step every first responder should take to get ready to respond. Vaccine-preventable diseases like tetanus are more common in the wake of disasters. Stay up to date on your immunizations so that you are more protected when a disaster strikes."

-US Department of Health & Human Services


Below are some resources regarding vaccines and first responders.