Medical experts explain why you should get vaccinated

Why you should get vaccinated

(CNN) – At least 10 states have reported cases of measles so far this year.

Leading health officials are stressing the importance of getting vaccinated.

"Americans who are unvaccinated put themselves, their families and their communities at risk,” said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

Immunization against some of the most contagious diseases should start at birth, according to the CDC.

"As soon as a child is born, in their first visit to a pediatrician, a mom should be talking to their doctor about the vaccine schedule," Messonnier said.

The MMR vaccine protects against measles, mumps and rubella. The DTaP vaccine covers diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough.

Kids can also start getting the flu vaccine at 6 months of age.

“There are vaccines that [women] can get while pregnant that will protect themselves as well as their children,” Messonnier said.

The CDC says pregnant women should get vaccines for the flu and whooping cough.

Health officials say not to believe anti-vaccine propaganda you might see on the internet.

“Some of it actually looks almost scientific, and the misinformation about the disease and the vaccine are leading some folks to not vaccinate themselves or their children,” said Dr. Alan Melnick, the health director of Clark County, Washington, which is experiencing a public health emergency over a measles outbreak and rising flu cases.

The CDC says there are no alternatives to vaccination when it comes to combating preventative diseases, and the risks of a bad reaction are almost nonexistent.

"Vaccines that are recommended in the United States are extensively studied,” Messonnier said. “That's why I can say that we have the safest immunization schedule that we've ever had, and that it's the safest immunization schedule in the world."

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