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Immunizations Aren’t Just For Kids

August is National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM). Immunizations represent one of the greatest public health accomplishments of the 20th century.

Immunization shots may hurt a little, but the diseases they prevent are a lot worse, even life-threatening. Shots, or vaccinations, are essential. They protect against things like measles, hepatitis B, polio and tetanus. Immunizations are important for adults as well as children.

Your immune system helps your body fight germs by producing substances to combat them. Once it does, the immune system “remembers” the germ and can fight it again. Vaccines contain germs that have been killed or weakened. When given to a healthy person, the vaccine triggers the immune system to respond and thus build immunity.

Vaccination is important because it protects the person receiving the vaccine and helps prevent the spread of disease, especially to those who are most vulnerable to serious complications (such as infants and young children, the elderly, and those with chronic conditions and weakened immune systems).

Before vaccines, people became immune only by actually getting a disease and surviving it. Immunizations are an easier and less risky way to become immune.

Vaccines Protect Your Child’s Health

In the first three months of your child’s life, they should receive seven immunizations! Though the shots may hurt a little, remember that you are setting your new baby up to be healthy throughout his or her life. By the time your child is seven years old, they will have received more than 30 vaccinations. And it doesn’t stop there.

Even kids who are going off to college need shots. Most colleges require them to have at least three vaccines, and they may need some boosters. Meningococcal conjugate vaccine protects against bacterial meningitis. Tdap protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis, or whooping cough. HPV vaccination protects against cancers caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. Most colleges require measles, mumps, rubella and varicella, which is chicken pox (or proof of having had the disease), hepatitis B and a tetanus booster, which is necessary only if it’s been ten years since your last shot. Be sure to check with the school to make sure your child has met the necessary immunization requirements.

Because there are so many vaccinations to keep track of, it’s a good idea to use a card designed for just this purpose (a spreadsheet isn’t necessary). You can request an immunization tracking card from your child’s doctor at Warner Family Practice. Bring the card with you to all of your child’s doctor visits. Ask your child’s doctor or nurse to record the vaccine given, date and dosage on the card. This is like your “permanent” record, remember to give it to your child when they go off to college so they can continue to keep track of their immunizations.

Yes, Adults Need Immunizations

You’re not a kid anymore, so you don’t have to worry about shots, right? Wrong. Vaccines for adults are recommended based on your age, prior vaccinations, health, lifestyle, occupation and travel destinations. Several factors can affect whether you need certain vaccines.

  • Have plans to travel abroad
  • Have had your spleen removed
  • Work in certain occupations where exposures could occur
  • Are or might be pregnant
  • Are moderately or severely ill or have a chronic illness
  • Have any severe allergies, including a serious allergic reaction to a previous dose of a vaccine
  • Have recently had another vaccine
  • Have a personal or family history of seizures

Your doctor might also recommend certain vaccines based on your sexual activity. Vaccinations can protect you from hepatitis A and hepatitis B, serious liver infections that can spread through sexual contact. The HPV vaccine is recommended for men up to age 21 and women up to age 26. Certain diseases, such as the flu can be particularly serious for older adults or those living with certain chronic illnesses. A yearly flu vaccination is recommended for everyone from 6 months to 100 years, unless you are allergic to eggs or had a serious reaction to a previous flu vaccine.

Talk To Your Doctor At Warner Family Practice

Talk with your healthcare professional about which vaccines are right for you based on your age, health, job, lifestyle and other factors. Take the CDC’s, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, vaccine quiz to find which vaccines may be recommended for you. Vaccines are available at private doctor offices, as well as other convenient locations such as pharmacies, workplaces, community health clinics and health departments.

If you are in the Chandler, Tempe, Mesa, Phoenix or Gilbert area of Arizona, we encourage you to schedule a visit with one of our providers. You can call 480.831.8457 to speak with our scheduling department.

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