Desirea Irvin, PharmD

Staff Pharmacist Lead

Orlando, FL

Q: Why are immunizations important?


Immunizations are crucial in decreasing the spread of diseases. They can prevent infection and decrease the severity of disease. Immunizations control and even eliminate some life-threatening illnesses such as measles, pertussis (whooping cough), shingles, mumps and polio. Studies have shown that immunizations can also extend life expectancy.

Q: What’s the difference between immunizations and vaccinations?


An immunization is the result of an effective vaccination. Vaccines are made from small amounts of dead or weakened viruses, bacteria or toxins that can cause diseases. When vaccines are administered into the body, the immune system produces antibodies to fight the specific germ — this process is called “immunity.” If the body encounters the disease caused by that germ, the immune system will then respond and release these antibodies as protection.

Q: Which vaccinations should you get?


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends specific vaccinations throughout a person’s lifetime. The seasonal influenza (flu) vaccine is recommended for everyone aged six months to over 65 years old. The CDC also recommends adults 50 years and older get vaccinated for shingles, and those 65 years and older receive pneumococcal vaccinations. Immunizations for other infectious diseases — such as hepatitis A and B, human papillomavirus (HPV), or meningococcal disease — may be recommended depending on a person’s age group and risk conditions including pregnancy or chronic diseases. To learn more, view all CDC recommended vaccines

Q: What are some common side effects? And will the vaccine make you sick?


As with any medication, vaccines have some side effects, but serious reactions are rare. The most common side effects are soreness at the injection site and low-grade fever. These usually only last a couple of days and can be treated with over-the-counter pain relievers or fever-reducers if needed. Inactivated vaccines contain dead virus or bacteria components and cannot cause disease. Live vaccines, such as the measles shot, may cause what appears to be a mild case of the disease (a small rash or a few spots, for example), but this isn’t harmful and may actually show that the vaccine is working.

Q: How effective are vaccines?


According to the World Health Organization, between 2–3 million deaths are prevented each year by vaccines. While no vaccine is 100 percent effective, most childhood vaccines are effective for 85-95 percent of patients.

About Desirea

"I became a pharmacist because of my desire to help the community as well as my family. I wanted a career that would allow me to be a healthcare resource for those in need. And I realized at an early age the local pharmacist was this beacon of knowledge."