Protect the health of your family with vaccinations

Dr. Sanjay Suthar, MD
For The Review

National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM) is an annual observance held in August to highlight the importance of vaccinations for all ages.

It’s an opportunity to raise awareness about the important role vaccines play in preventing serious, sometimes deadly diseases, across the lifespan.

Infants, children and teens

Getting children vaccinated following the recommended immunization schedule is one of the most important things a parent can do to protect their child’s health. Diseases can quickly spread among groups of children who aren’t vacciby nated.

Childcare facilities, preschool programs, schools and colleges are prone to outbreaks of infectious diseases. Without vaccinations, infants and children are at increased risk for disease and can spread disease to others, including family members at home.

Babies receive a number of vaccinations to help protect them from 14 diseases by age two. It’s very important that babies receive all doses of each vaccine and receive each vaccination on time. Certain booster shots are needed between four and six years of age.

Each state requires children entering childcare or school to be vaccinated. Colleges and universities may have their own requirements, especially for students living in residence halls. Parents can check with their child’s health care provider, local school or health department to learn about current state or county requirements in their area.

Parents are reminded that the HPV vaccine protects against cancers caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. It is recommended for preteen boys and girls at age 11 or 12, so they are protected before ever being exposed to the virus.

The CDC reminds adults that immunizations are not just for children. Protection gained from some childhood vaccines can wear off over time.

• All adults need a seasonal flu vaccine every year. Flu vaccine is especially important for people with chronic health conditions, pregnant women and older adults.

• Every adult should get the Tdap vaccine once, if they did not receive it as an adolescent to protect against pertussis (whooping cough), and then receive a Td (tetanus, diphtheria) booster shot every 10 years.

• Pregnant women should get the Tdap vaccine each time they are pregnant, preferably at 27 through 36 weeks.

Older adults

As we get older, our immune systems tend to weaken over time, putting us at higher risk for certain diseases. An estimated 1 million Americans get shingles every year, and about half of them are 60 years old or older.

The zoster vaccine helps protect against shingles and is recommended for adults 60 years of age and older.

Additionally, over 60 percent of flu-related hospitalizations occur in people 65 years and older, so getting a flu shot is extremely important for people in this age group.

Older adults should also receive pneumococcal (pneumonia) vaccines to protect against pneumococcal disease.

This is recommended for adults over 65 years old, and for those younger than 65 years with certain chronic health conditions.

Talk with your health care provider to learn which vaccines are recommended for you and your family members at your next medical appointment.

Dr. Sanjay Suthar, MD is a family medicine physician at Aurora Health Center in Sheboygan, 2414 Kohler Memorial Dr. His office can be reached at 920-457-4461.

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