Come flu season, there are several precautions that I begin taking to avoid getting sick. I was my hands as often as possible, especially when I'm at school or work where I come into contact with a lot of germs. Whenever I feel like I've run into someone who is sick, I pop a few vitamin C tablets for the following few days to help out my body. On top of that, I make sure to eat healthily and stay hydrated so I don't get worn down.

Oh, and I get a flu shot.

Why? Because vaccinations are an important part of protecting ourselves against many preventable diseases. Seasonal vaccinations like the flu shot help to prevent more of our population from suffering from hospitalizations and flu-related complications.

Vaccines are one of the most incredible medical breakthroughs we have. When you receive a vaccination, you are teaching your immune system how to fight a possible infection by training your immune cells to recognize antigens. For example, one kind of flu vaccine contains viruses that have been killed and are not infectious. Your immune system cannot tell that they are inactive, and will still treat the "invading virus" like it would a live one. Your B and T cells create a small and powerful army to engulf the inactive virus and learn from the experience. That way, if any live flu viruses enter your system, your immune system will be ready to go on offense right away.

Influenza can be scary, but we also have a dozen other preventable diseases that can be stopped by vaccinations. The prevalence of polio, measles, whooping cough and more can be lowered when we vaccinate our children at a young age.

Even if you've never heard of a case of measles occurring in your town, all it takes is one person traveling through the area to spread infection. While it is rare in our country, measles is common around the world and unvaccinated travelers can bring the disease back home with them. In the first six months of 2018 alone, a reported 107 people in 21 states were infected with measles and almost all of them were unvaccinated.

Do you care about your community? Do you want to see your friends and family stay healthy? Then having your children vaccinated can help out with that. There are certain people who unfortunately can't receive vaccines such as newborn babies and those with diseases that compromise their immune systems. They rely on the rest of their community to stay vaccinated to avoid preventable diseases from being around them. In order to protect us all, we just need to ensure the new generation gets their vaccinations.

Medical professionals are aware of the concerns parents have for their children. They know how scary it can be to put something into your child's body that you might not fully understand. They may not share the love you have for your child, but they are fully invested in seeing your child grow up healthy and strong. Before vaccines are approved for use, they undergo rigorous testing. Nothing but the absolute best passes through these checkpoints. You can rest assured knowing that each vaccination your child needs is safe and well-regulated.

One day, when I have children, I'll make sure they're as safe as I can make them. Electrical outlets within their reach will be covered, their car seats will be up to standard, and they'll wear helmets when they learn to ride a bike. In order for me to be sure my children will reach the age where they can ride a bike though, I'll be making sure they receive all the vaccinations the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends.

If I can prevent my kids from accidental electrocution and bumps on the head when they ride a bike, I can prevent serious childhood diseases. They'll still skin their knees and get in all kinds of trouble, but at least they won't get polio.