One Youngstown doctor is sharing a reminder to the community that fall is the perfect time to check up on their vaccinations. 
 
Dr. Stephen Pupillo, an internal medicine physician at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Youngstown, explained that over the past several decade's vaccines have changed immensely. 
 
"Overall, we've seen a trend in some diseases actually being less prevalent because of an increased number of vaccinations," Dr. Pupillo said. 
 
Some diseases have nearly been eradicated because of the advancements in vaccines, according to Dr. Pupillo. "Some of them being as simple as pneumonia, with better pneumonia vaccinations over the years; as well as continued vaccinations among children of measles, mumps, rubella specifically. And a virtual elimination of some of those diseases."
 
Dr. Pupillo explained that most vaccines work by taking a small number of inactive from a virus and injecting them into a healthy person to build up an immunity. 
 
"The body processes something called antigens, and the immune system picks up on those antigens, and it decides some of them are harmful, some of them could be beneficial, and it builds an immunity to those antigens," Pupillo explained. "So, for instance, someone with strep throat, it's been documented get about ten antigens from that. Someone with a more complicated disease can develop even more." 
 
But Pupillo notes that recent outbreaks of measles and mumps can be attributed to declining vaccination rates. 
 
But vaccination plays a crucial role in the idea of "herd immunity." 
 
"Herd immunity is a nice idea that's talked about. The idea is that we vaccinate a population. It depends on the disease what percentage you need to get herd immunity. And for instance, with measles, it's about 92 percent of the population that needs to be immunized to prevent the spread of that infection among the population," Dr. Pupillo explained. "If numbers drop below there, certainly if there is an introduction of the disease you're at risk for it to spread. And measles, in particular, is extremely contagious."
 
Though many healthy individuals may feel that they don't need vaccinations, Dr. Pupillo says some community members rely on that herd immunity to keep them safe. 
 
"It's especially these common diseases that the average person, the average healthy person, may not have that many consequences other than maybe a few missed days of work, which certainly is a consequence. But people with underlying conditions of lungs and other medical problems can end up in the hospital, and it can be life-threatening for them," he explained. 
 
There are approximately 15 vaccines that are recommended for most individuals, but several of them have been combined, such as the Tdap vaccine, which protects against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis, and the MMR vaccine which fights measles, mumps, and rubella. 
 
Right now, mid-September to early October is the best time to get a flu vaccine to prepare for the upswing of the flu virus in November. 
 
But while patients are at the doctor's office already, Dr. Pupillo recommends checking to see what other vaccines they might need. 
 
He also says that the CDC has a schedule of which vaccines should be administered when and what might need a booster. That information can be found here.