Ask the VEC: Natural Infection vs. Vaccination

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Q. Isn’t it true that natural infection provides better immunity against diseases than vaccination?

A. While in most cases the immunity following natural infection is greater than that following vaccination, it is important to consider two factors. First, the immunity provided by vaccination is typically “good enough” meaning that in most cases it is sufficient to protect those who have been vaccinated. Second, the risks of experiencing severe side effects from vaccines are much lower than the potential risks of infection. Whereas the most severe effects from a vaccine are typically pain, redness or swelling at the injection site, the diseases themselves can cause severe illness, hospitalization, or death.

Also, interestingly, a few vaccines induce a stronger immune response than natural infection. Those include vaccines for human papillomavirus (HPV), tetanus, Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), and pneumococcus.

Materials in this section are updated as new information and vaccines become available. The Vaccine Education Center staff regularly reviews materials for accuracy.

You should not consider the information in this site to be specific, professional medical advice for your personal health or for your family's personal health. You should not use it to replace any relationship with a physician or other qualified healthcare professional. For medical concerns, including decisions about vaccinations, medications and other treatments, you should always consult your physician or, in serious cases, seek immediate assistance from emergency personnel.