Getting a shot at any age is not a pleasurable experience. For some, it’s akin to getting a filling. However, you do feel that you’ve achieved something – protecting yourself against a disease. You have actually accomplished more than that in the case of many types of communicable diseases. You are also protecting family members and community members who can’t get the immunization either because of age or health condition.
August is National Immunization Awareness Month, reminding us that we all need vaccines throughout our lives. The need for immunizations doesn’t end with childhood. While many adults recognize that a flu vaccine is recommended every year, few are aware of the need for other vaccines to help protect their health. Protection from some childhood immunizations wears off over time, leaving you vulnerable to disease. For example, there has been a rise in cases of whooping cough in the last few years nationally and in Colorado. There have already been 783 reported cases in the state, compared with a yearly average of 119 cases.
We have learned that protection from whooping cough vaccine given to young children wanes, so it’s now required for students entering sixth grade and recommended that all adults get one dose of the vaccine, which also serves as a tetanus booster. Currently, because of the ongoing outbreak of pertussis in Colorado, the state has made vaccine available for all regardless of age or insurance status for $21.65 at local public-health departments, including San Juan Basin Health.
Each year, thousands of adults in the United States suffer serious health problems, are hospitalized, or even die from diseases that could be prevented by vaccines, including flu, certain bacterial infections, shingles, hepatitis A and B. Talk to your doctor today to find out which vaccines are recommended for you. Check your immunization records to be sure you received the HPV vaccine, Measles mumps-rubella vaccine and varicella “chicken pox” vaccines. Some adults, including older adults and those who have chronic health conditions, may be at higher risk for serious complications from some vaccine preventable diseases. For example, because older age increases the chance of getting shingles, it’s recommended that adults older than 60 get the shingles vaccine. Currently, for people who are uninsured or have insurance that doesn’t cover vaccines, we are providing it for $21.65.
August is also back-to-school time – the perfect occasion for parents to check their child’s immunization record to ensure they’re up-to-date. This is particularly important for parents of children entering kindergarten and sixth grade, as Colorado requires some immunizations. For more information on this, visit immunizeforgood.com/resource-center.
There are four recommended vaccines that preteens should get when they are 11 or 12 years old. You can use any health-care visit, including sports physicals, to get the shots your kids need. They are: HPV vaccine for both boys and girls; Tdap booster against tetanus and pertussis; Meningococcal vaccine, which protects against a leading cause of bacterial meningitis; and a flu shot.
For more information, visit sjbhd.org/immunizations.
Jane Looney is the communications director for the San Juan Basin Health Department.