Despite the controversy surrounding certain vaccines, immunizations are considered one of the greatest public health achievements of the twentieth century. Even if parents are fully willing to keep up with infant and toddler vaccinations, they may not realize they themselves should be getting immunized to protect against certain health risks.
The Importance of Immunizations at Any Age
Childhood vaccines protect against illnesses such as measles, mumps, and rubella. Haemophilus influenzae can also be life-threatening to children. “I feel very fortunate to live in a time where my children are protected by vaccines,” states Dr. Stephanie Fosback, an Internist with Pullman Regional Hospital.
As individuals age, conditions like pneumonia and shingles can severely impact one’s health and ability to function. “Vaccinating to prevent not only the illness itself, such as the flu, but also prevent the debilitating pain of a condition like shingles, is a step individuals should take.”
Shingles in particular is one immunization protocol that has improved vastly over the last few years. The newest version of the vaccine is recommended for all individuals age 50 and older, with very minor exceptions. “Individuals with certain immune conditions may not be able to receive the vaccine, but for the most part, it's recommended for all individuals over fifty,” advises Dr. Fosback.
Debunking Myths about the Flu Shot
One vaccine myth that often circulates the throughout the general population is that the flu shot causes one to develop the flu.
“Someone who has received the flu shot may present with a low grade temperature, achy arm, or malaise for a few days, but that's not the same experience as getting influenza. Influenza, or the flu, can cause several weeks of muscle aches, high fever, and life-threatening respiratory illness,” explains Dr. Fosback.
Pneumococcal & Hepatitis Vaccines
Individuals who are age 65 and older or those of any age who suffer with lung problems or other conditions that impair the immune system should receive the pneumococcal vaccine. Two vaccines are available to help prevent severity of illness related to pneumococcal pneumonia.
“Pneumococcal is perhaps the most important vaccine for those over 65. Of course, if individuals haven't had their hepatitis A and B vaccines and they have exposure risk, they should absolutely add those to their immunization protocol,” advises Dr. Fosback.
Boosters Shots: Are the Necessary?
Booster shots depend on the variety of the vaccine. For example, tetanus boosters should be given every 10 years, due to waning effectiveness. A flu booster needs yearly administration because strains shift and adapt each year. Not every immunization requires a booster. “A number of shots do require boosters but most vaccines from childhood do not,” explains Dr. Fosback.
Why Wait? Get Vaccinated Today
Vaccines are safe, and they provide both short-term and long-term benefits. However, many individuals either put off or avoid undergoing an immunization schedule.
“Most of my patients don't put off their vaccines, because many of them grew up within generations where measles, mumps, and polio were a reality. They recognize the importance of vaccinations,” says Dr. Fosback. “But, those who weren’t exposed to childhood illness death risk may have a tendency to forget the severity of these diseases and neglect all immunization upkeep.”
To ensure the best health for you and your loved ones, follow your physician’s recommended age-appropriate vaccine schedule.