By Christina Tran, Pharmacy Resident, Baptist Health Medical Center-Little Rock
As summer is ending and school begins, make sure that you and your kids are up to date on vaccinations. In this article, we will address the importance of vaccines and what vaccines are recommended for you to receive!
Why Are Immunizations Important?
Vaccines play an important role in preventing serious diseases such as whooping cough, polio, measles, and flu. Before vaccines were developed, these diseases were more commonly seen in the United States. One example is smallpox. On average three out of 10 people who had smallpox would die from the disease. Smallpox can also leave survivors with severe and permanent scars. Luckily, the smallpox vaccine was developed. The last person who was infected by smallpox naturally was in 1975. Although smallpox is not seen anymore, many other serious diseases still exist today and can be prevented by vaccinations.
Vaccinations start as early as newborns. Mothers provide their newborns with some immunity to diseases when they are born. After the first year of life, the immunity provided by the mother goes away leaving these children susceptible to diseases that can be prevented by vaccines. A sick child could also require parents to take them to the doctor’s office, which costs money and takes time away from work.
Vaccines: Myth vs. Truth
MYTH: “Vaccines cause autism.”
TRUTH: Studies have shown that there is no association between vaccines and the development of autism.
One of the several studies that proves this point includes a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, a highly regarded medical journal. The study included 537,303 children and found that the risk of autism was the same in children who were vaccinated and not vaccinated with the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccination. There was also no association of the development of autism and how old the children were when they were vaccinated or the time of vaccination. Many other studies also support their findings.
MYTH: “The flu shot gives me the flu.”
TRUTH: You cannot get the flu from the flu shot.
The flu vaccination is recommended every year in order to prevent the flu. The most recommended flu shot is inactivated, meaning that it cannot cause the flu. The nasal spray flu vaccine (FluMist) is a live attenuated vaccine. This consists of a live virus that is designed to be very weak and will not cause the flu.
What Vaccines Should I Get?
In this section we will highlight certain vaccinations that are recommended for certain groups. We recommend that you talk to your doctor or pharmacist about what vaccinations you are eligible for.
General population: Flu shot every year and Tdap/Td booster every 10 years
In addition to the recommended vaccines listed above, if you fall under any of these categories listed here, the CDC also recommends you receive:
65 years old or older: Pneumococcal vaccine (PCV13 and PPSV23), shingles vaccine
People with Diabetes: Pneumococcal vaccine (PPSV23)
People with Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD): Pneumococcal vaccine (PPSV23)
Pregnancy: Tdap (each pregnancy)
Need more information about the recommended vaccines? Read below!
Flu shot: Protects you from being sick with the flu. Recommended for those 6 months of age and older.
Tdap: Helps to protect you from tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis. It is recommended that women receive a Tdap vaccination every pregnancy to protect newborns from pertussis. People who have close contact with newborns should also ensure that they have received Tdap in the past.
Td booster: Given once every 10 years to protect against tetanus and diphtheria after receiving Tdap.
Pneumococcal vaccines: Protects against pneumococcal diseases such as pneumonia. There are two different pneumococcal vaccines that you may be eligible for. Depending on your age or medical conditions, it may be recommended you receive both vaccines over time to give you better protection.
Shingles vaccine: Helps to protect you from shingles and nerve pain from shingles. It is recommended that you receive the shingles vaccine even if you had shingles or don’t remember if you had chickenpox. The CDC recommends those 50 years and older receive the new shingles vaccine called Shingrix, which is a two-dose vaccine separated by two to six months that is more than 90 percent effective than the previous version of the vaccine called Zostavax. Those who received Zostavax are still recommended to receive Shingrix due to better effectiveness.