Arm Yourself with Annual Immunizations
August 14, 2015
Back-to-school season is here, which means haircuts, textbooks, new shoes and clothing – and most importantly, a visit to the doctor for routine immunizations.
Immunizations, or vaccines, help protect your health by building immunity to disease. Some vaccines – such as those received in childhood – are needed only a few times for lifelong protection, and others must be repeated annually to protect against recurring illnesses, such as the flu.
Protect yourself and the ones you love by making sure you’re up to speed on the vaccines that you and your family need to stay healthy.
If you are a parent of a young child, ask your pediatrician for guidance on the immunizations your child needs from birth to age 18. Your doctor will administer the appropriate vaccinations or boosters needed for school or sports and to maintain good health during your child’s annual physical. These vaccinations are based on the guidelines of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) and protect against diseases ranging from chickenpox to measles and mumps.
From birth to age 12, your child will receive one or more of the following vaccines:
- Hepatitis A and B
- Diphtheria, tetanus, & pertussis (whooping cough) (DTaP)
- Bacterial meningitis (Hib)
- Pneumococcal vaccine
- Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR)
- Chickenpox (varicella)
- Human papillomavirus (HPV)
- Meningococcal vaccine (meningitis)
“Vaccines help to protect a child as they grow and develop from diseases that could be quite serious and in some cases, deadly,” says Dr. Charles Mathis, Family Practice at Logan Memorial. “Rather than attempt to treat or cure an illness, vaccines work to prevent a disease from ever occurring. I encourage parents to talk with your pediatrician about recommended immunizations and consult reliable resources, such as the AAP or CDC, for information to help make an informed decision.”
The importance of annual immunizations for adults
Immunizations are not just for children. Vaccines for adults are recommended based on age, prior vaccination history, health, lifestyle, occupation and travel patterns (i.e., outside the United States).
The CDC recommends that all persons aged six months or older be vaccinated against the flu annually. Unlike childhood vaccines, one isn’t enough, because each year the flu virus contains different strains. Each year’s vaccine is formulated to protect against three or four different flu viruses that are expected to be the most common strains circulating during a particular season.
While everyone should receive a flu vaccine, certain individuals should be particularly vigilant, due to increased risk of severe flu complications. This includes young children; pregnant women; healthcare workers; people who suffer from chronic health conditions such as asthma, diabetes, or heart and lung disease; and adults age 65 and older.
The CDC also recommends that all adults over age 60 receive the shingles vaccine. Shingles – a burning, painful rash and fluid-filled blisters – happens when the chickenpox virus, which lies dormant in the body for years after a person has had the illness, reactivates. The likelihood of developing shingles increases with age and physical or emotional stress. If you have already had shingles, the vaccine can help prevent a recurrence.
“The flu vaccine and shingles vaccine are particularly important for older adults, because these illnesses can have particularly severe complications in adults over age 60,” said Dr. Charles Mathis.
Should I Be Vaccinated?
Certain health conditions, lifestyle or risk factors can factor into the benefit and timing of vaccination. If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, moderately or severely ill, suffer from a chronic illness or immune system disorder, have severe allergies (including egg allergy), are undergoing cancer treatment, or have previously had a severe reaction to a vaccine, talk with your doctor and follow his or her recommendation for immunizations.For more information, visit www.cdc.gov/vaccines, or call your primary care provider. If you do not have a primary care provider, Logan Memorial Hospital can help you identify one. Simply call 270-726-4011.