August is National Immunization Awareness Month. It’s that time of year when parents are being asked to have their kids’ immunizations updated prior to the start of school. Unfortunately as adults we fail to think about ourselves when it comes to maintaining our immunizations. Vaccines are important for the following reasons:
- Protects those with chronic conditions. If you have a chronic illness such as diabetes, heart disease or lung disease you are at higher risk for medical complications.
- Prevents disease. Vaccines protect all adults from serious and sometimes deadly diseases such as the flu, pneumonia, whooping cough and hepatitis.
- Prevents cancer. Vaccines such as Hepatitis B and Human Papillomarvirus(HPV) can prevent cancer. Chronic infection with Hepatitis B can lead to liver cancer. Certain strains of HPV can cause cervical, vaginal or anal cancers.
- Protects older adults, the very young and those with a weakened immune system. This group of individuals are at higher risk for medical complications.
- Prevents the spread of disease. Vaccines protect us all. It helps prevent the spread of diseases to others.
- Protects healthcare workers. Certain vaccines are important for healthcare workers and first responders who are at higher risk of exposure.
- Protects you when you travel. Certain diseases are more common in other countries, thus certain vaccines are recommended prior to your travel.
Talk to you doctor about what vaccines are recommended for your age group and for your particular illness. Perhaps you have reservations about vaccine safety because of what you “heard” from a friend or from what you read on the internet. If that is the case you need to speak to your doctor about your concerns. You need to make a well informed decision before you completely negate the idea of getting a vaccine, thus make sure you discuss with your doctor the pros and cons of receiving a vaccine.
Takeaway point is that vaccines are not just for children. Vaccines are recommended throughout our lives based on age, occupation, locations of travel and medical conditions. Talk to your doctor about what vaccines are recommended for you.
by Marjorie Binette, MD