As you grow older, your immune system grows stronger, but that doesn't mean you no longer risk catching infectious diseases. There are factors that make you more susceptible to illness, such as aging, chronic illness, poor nutrition, an unhealthy environment, or a genetic predisposition. Sometimes your behaviors can make you more likely to get infected—eating unclean food, leading a stressful lifestyle, sexual promiscuity, drug abuse, travel, extreme sports, or not seeking medical care when ill.

You also have to contend with the changing character of infectious diseases. Many aren’t obvious, so you might infect others without even feeling any symptoms.
 
There are infectious diseases for which there are no magic shots, like HIV, SARS, and Hepatitis C. For some diseases like bird flu, vaccines are still in the trial stage. But we can protect ourselves against many diseases using tried and true, readily available vaccines. Read on for seven good reasons to get those shots.

Read these other articles for more health advice:

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(First published in Good Housekeeping Magazine, Good Health section as "Health Check" in July 2006; adapted for use in Female Network)


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