August is National Immunization Month, and it is a time to recognize the importance of staying safe, reducing the spread of diseases, and staying up to date on immunizations for each stage of life. Due to COVID-19, it is more important than ever to ensure everyone in your family is up to date on their immunizations this year. Routine vaccinations prevent illnesses that lead to unnecessary medical visits & hospitalizations, which increase your risk of exposure and further strain our healthcare system.
Why are vaccines important?
A vaccine (or immunization) is a way to help your body build its natural immunity to a disease before contracting the full strain of the disease and possibly getting sick from it. For most vaccines, a weakened form of the disease germ is injected into your body, usually via a shot in the leg or arm. Your body detects the invading germs (antigens) and produces antibodies to fight them. Those antibodies then stay in your body for a long time. In many cases, the antibodies are present for the rest of your life — this means that if you are ever exposed to that disease again, your better will be more equipped to fight it off.*
Vaccines not only help protect yourself but helps protect your loved ones, too. They are an essential part of preventing community spread of diseases, and they help protect those who are unable to get vaccines for one reason or another (allergies, immunocompromised, etc.)
When should I get my vaccine?
Some vaccines should be administered at regular intervals throughout our lives, such as the annual flu shot or the booster tetanus and diphtheria (Td) vaccine received every 10 years. Others, however, are encouraged for administration at particular ages. For example:
- Vaccinations given during any trimester provide both mother and baby with protection, even after birth. The first administration of the Tdap vaccine will help protect against whooping cough. It’s safe to receive vaccines during pregnancy and after giving birth, even while breastfeeding – and this includes the flu shot.
- Babies receive vaccinations by the age of 2 that help protect them from 14 diseases, including measles and whooping cough.
- Pre-teens and teens have a greater risk for diseases like meningitis and HPV, and those vaccines provide more protection at this age.
- Vaccines are an essential preventative measure for older adults as they are at higher risk of developing complications if they contract certain illnesses, such as pneumonia or shingles.
Ask your doctor or our team which vaccines are right for you, or find the CDC recommended vaccine schedule here.
*Information provided by familydoctor.org/the-importance-of-vaccinations/ & the CDC.