From substantially reducing the risk of the flu to completely eradicating certain infectious diseases, vaccines are a crucial step to maintaining good health.
“Vaccinations have revolutionized health care and reduce mortality from infections,” says Jeffrey Weinstein, MD, infectious diseases specialist at Kettering and Sycamore medical centers.
Keeping yourself informed about vaccines and the diseases they protect people from is essential all year long. But if you feel your immunization knowledge isn’t up to par, August, Immunization Awareness Month, is the perfect time to brush up on the facts.
Ideally, a vaccine can eliminate a disease completely. Such is the case for the polio vaccine. In other situations, vaccines cannot eliminate disease, but can substantially reduce its occurrence, such as the influenza vaccine. However, Dr. Weinstein says, both are equally important to receive.
Those who elect not to be vaccinated are taking a risk that they could get a disease that is preventable.
From an early age. There are several rounds of important vaccines that are administered during early childhood and combat diseases such as Hepatitis B, measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, and polio.
Into adulthood. Adults should ensure they are regularly getting a flu shot each season. Pneumococcal vaccinations are recommended for adults 65+, but certain patients at younger ages, such as those who are immunosuppressed or who have chronic cardiac conditions. It is also important for adults who have received less than three doses of the tetanus vaccine to get a booster.
Health care heroes. For Kettering Health Network employees, it is mandatory that you are vaccinated for rubella, rubeola, mumps, and varicella. It is also a requirement that you receive a flu vaccination each season. These requirements not only help protect health care providers but also protect our at-risk patients. As many of our patients are already ill and potentially immunosuppressed, they are much more vulnerable to contracting an infectious disease.
Even if you aren’t a health care worker, it is a good idea to have the proper knowledge on vaccines and to understand their importance and effectiveness. Dr. Weinstein debunks some common immunization myths:
- Do immunizations pose a risk for developing other conditions, such as autism? Dr. Weinstein says that this myth has been scientifically proven not to be true, and should therefore not persuade people from receiving vaccines or allowing their children to do so.
- Is there a large population of people who are unable to get vaccinated? Though some people choose not to get vaccinated for religious reasons, the population of people who are unable to be vaccinated for medical purposes is relatively small. Some people may be allergic to components of the vaccine. Others with egg allergies may be compelled to avoid vaccines such as the flu shot that is sometimes made in egg. However, Dr. Weinstein says that there are plenty of flu vaccines that are no longer produced in egg that are safe for those with an allergy. Immunocompromised patients or patients who are pregnant should not receive “live” vaccinations, such as the older versions of the shingles vaccine, the chicken pox vaccine, or the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella).
If you are concerned about your ability to receive a vaccine, or have a special circumstance such as pregnancy or international travel, consult with your physician about which vaccinations are appropriate for you.
To find a primary care physician to speak with about your vaccination plan, click here or call 1-888-726-2372.
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