Health Topics

Student Information

General Vaccine Information

Vaccines can also be called immunizations, needles or shots.

Vaccines are made with a small amount of germs that cause disease. The germs used in vaccines are killed or weakened so they won’t make you sick.

Your immune system is a special network in your body. It protects you from germs like bacteria and viruses that cause disease. Vaccines help your immune system learn how to recognize harmful germs so your body can fight them.  Vaccines protect you from many diseases that can make you very sick or cause death.

Watch this video to learn more:

Yes. Getting a needle will hurt, but only for a little while. The good news is the shot will only last a few seconds and you will be protected for a long time after that.

Some students have said:

  • “It’s only a little pinch.”
  • “Doesn’t hurt long; just lasts 5 seconds.”
  • “It didn’t really hurt; just felt the pressure of it going in.”
  • “I thought other students made it a way bigger deal than it was.”

It is normal to feel worried about getting a needle. Get lots of sleep and eat a good breakfast the morning you’re getting a needle. If you are worried about getting a needle you can always talk to someone you trust. Talk to your parents, teachers, friends, doctors or nurses.

Some students have found it helpful to:

  • “Talk to people who have already got the needle.”
  • “Stay calm.”
  • “Breath in and out.”
  • “Stay still when the needle goes in.”
  • “Don’t tense up.”
  • “Don’t look at it going in.”
  • “Don’t think about it; keep talking.”
  • “Keep talking to the nurse.”
  • "Hold your friend’s hand.”

After you get a vaccine, your arm might get red and sore where the needle went in. Keep moving your arm throughout the day so the vaccine does not stay in one spot and cause pain.


Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is caused by a virus that affects the liver and can cause permanent damage. It's the biggest cause of liver cancer worldwide. You need your liver to digest food and remove waste from your body. 

People with Hepatitis B often become tired, have fever, lose their appetite, and sometimes get yellow skin and eyes (jaundice). Some people can get the virus but don’t have any symptoms. This means they can infect someone else without knowing

Hepatitis B is found in the blood and body fluids of a person who has the virus. The virus is mostly spread by sexual skin to skin contact.

Other ways the virus can spread:

  • by sharing razors, scissors, nail clippers or a toothbrush
  • by sharing drug items such as needles, straws and pipes
  • through dirty tools used for tattooing and body piercing


Meningococcal Disease

Meningococcal disease is caused by bacteria (Neisseria meningitidis). It can become very serious, very quickly.

The two most severe and common illnesses caused by these bacteria include:

  • infections of the fluid and lining around the brain and spinal cord (meningitis) 
  • blood infections (bacteremia or septicemia)

Meningitis symptoms include: bad headache, stiff neck, fever, tiredness, and muscle pain. It can lead to brain damage and death. Blood infections can lead to hearing loss, loss of your arm or leg and organ failure. Even with treatment, about 1 in 10 people with meningococcal disease will die from it.

Many people have meningococcal bacteria in the back of their nose and throat. This does not always make them sick. They can still spread the disease. The bacteria is spread through saliva or spit during close, direct contact.

Examples are:

  • kissing, coughing or sneezing
  • sharing things like food, drinks, toys and musical instruments



HPV is a very common virus that can cause infections. The infections can lead to genital warts and cancer (cervical, anal, genital, mouth and throat cancers).

HPV is spread by sexual skin to skin contact. HPV is so common that nearly all sexually active people get it at some point in their lives. HPV can be spread even when an infected person has no signs or symptoms. You can get symptoms years after you have sexual skin to skin contact with someone who is infected. This makes it hard to know when you first got infected.