August 18, 2023

Protect Precious Moments with Vaccinations

It’s National Immunization Awareness Month and everyone – young and old alike – can protect precious moments by getting vaccinated. Worldwide, childhood vaccination prevents four million deaths every year; the COVID-19 vaccination saved an estimated 20 million lives between December 2020 and December 2021. Vaccinations could help prevent up to 51 million deaths by 2030.

The pandemic disrupted many people’s routine immunization schedule. It’s not too late to get back on track and protect yourself, those you love, and your community. Here are some immunizations to prioritize; of course, speak with your primary care provider for the most important options for you.

Influenza (flu): Anyone six months or older should get a flu vaccine to protect against the flu viruses for the upcoming season. Flu usually means missing work, school, or family events, and it can be very serious; hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalized and tens of thousands of people die because of flu-related causes annually. Because each flu season is different, immunization should happen each year.

Covid-19: Developed with the most intense safety monitoring in US history, the COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective. It can prevent or lessen the impact of the virus SARS-CoV-2 which remains very contagious and spreads quickly. The vaccine is available for those six months or older; additional shots for those who are immunocompromised or 65+ are available. The newest vaccine targeting the latest variant is expected in September and there may be shots which combine the flu and COVID-19 vaccinations. For the most up-to-date guidance, you can visit the CDC’s Covid-19 page.

Diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough (Td or Tdap): Everyone should receive the Td or Tdap vaccination; the timing will depend on your age and vaccination history. Pregnant people should also get this vaccination each time they are pregnant. Diphtheria is a serious infection which can lead to difficulty breathing, heart rhythm problems, and death; since immunization began in 1921, diphtheria is now nearly unheard of in the U.S. Tetanus, also known as “lockjaw,” can cause a person’s neck and jaw muscles to lock, making opening the mouth or swallowing difficult. Today, there are only about 30 cases yearly, and most are in people who never got a tetanus vaccine. Whooping cough is a highly contagious respiratory tract infection. It is especially dangerous to infants, and that’s why it’s critical for pregnant people to get the vaccination. Whooping cough has been on the rise lately.

Zoster (or shingles): About one in three people in the U.S. will develop shingles; if you’ve ever had chickenpox, you can get shingles. A painful rash that usually develops on one side of the body, often the face or torso, shingles can cause intense pain which can last for months or even years after the rash goes away. Healthy adults aged 50 and older should get the vaccination, which is called Shingrix. This vaccine is done with two shots, with the second shot two to six months after the first. There is no maximum age for getting the vaccine.

Respiratory syncytial (RSV): The RSV vaccination is a newly approved addition. RSV is a respiratory virus with mild, cold-like symptoms that most recover from within two weeks; however, it can be serious, especially for infants and seniors. RSV kills up to 10,000 older adults annually. In June 2023, the CDC decided adults 65 and older may get one of the newly FDA-approved RSV vaccines in consultation with doctors.

Don’t let preventable illness steal valuable time from your loved ones. Celebrate National Immunization Awareness Month by knowing which vaccinations you and your loved ones need and making a plan to get up to date.

Categories: Health & Wellness