August is National Immunization Awareness Month which highlights the importance of vaccinations for people of all ages. The ever-advancing fields of microbiology, immunology and virology have made vaccines safe and effective at preventing illnesses and serious, life-threatening diseases.
Although vaccinations over the years have helped limit many serious diseases in America such as smallpox and rubella, these illnesses still exist and can affect people who are not vaccinated. With the influx of worldwide travelers or unvaccinated immigrants moving to the United States from Mexico, Afghanistan, Ukraine and other nations, uncommon diseases are making a resurgence or being newly introduced to our country. Polio and monkeypox are two of them.
You as an individual have the power to protect yourself and your family, friends, and co-workers from vaccine-preventable diseases. The following is an overview to help you and your family take control of your health today and for years to come.
What is the difference between immunization and vaccination?
Essentially, they mean the same thing. Immunization is typically used interchangeably with vaccination or inoculation. Immunization is the process of making a person immune to a disease or pathogenic agent. Protecting someone from an infectious disease usually happens via a vaccine given by needle injection or nasal spray. The act of introducing a vaccine into the body is called vaccination.
What are the main recommended immunizations for children?
In addition to COVID-19 vaccines, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a specific vaccination schedule for children beginning at birth through age 18. Parents and guardians can help protect young ones from widespread diseases including chickenpox, mumps, measles, whooping cough, flu and nearly a dozen other communicable diseases in our country. Preteens and teens encounter higher risks for serious disease such as meningitis, bloodstream infections, tetanus, diphtheria, and cancers caused by HPV. Your think primary care provider will walk you through the recommended vaccinations and what is best for younger children and those in their middle school to high school years.
What are the main recommended immunizations for adults?
Routine vaccines are not just for children and teens. As we age, immunity from immunizations during childhood can fade. Older adults are at higher risk for certain infectious diseases such as pneumonia, influenza, tuberculosis, and hepatitis. Health conditions, work, travel, and other lifestyle choices can accelerate the need for adults to safeguard their health through proactive vaccinations.
The CDC recommends the following immunizations for adults 50 years and older to prevent:
- Pneumococcal disease and pneumonia
- Hepatitis B
Think family doctors are also seeing a rise in whooping cough (pertussis) and respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, in older adults. An estimated 177,000 and more older adults are hospitalized each year from RSV infection and 14,000 of them die. Young children who get the DTaP vaccine are protected from diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough. The Tdap vaccine protects preteens through adults from these three diseases. An RSV vaccine is available for children and currently in development for adults.
Think flu and COVID-19 vaccinations begin mid-September
Please see your provider or visit ThinkQuick Walk-in Clinic.
The flu vaccine clinic also starts in mid-September, Monday – Friday from 8 am to 3 pm in the lobby.
Are the COVID-19 vaccines and boosters still important?
Yes! Getting accurate, up-to-date information about COVID-19 and available vaccines is crucial to your health and the community’s health at large. With misinformation still circling around about the coronavirus, it’s important to note that COVID-19 vaccines can help block new variants from emerging. The world has made tremendous progress on defeating SARS-CoV-2 and its multiple subvariants, but the ever-evolving infectious disease will be with us for some time.
Recent data indicates that COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness lessens over time, especially for people 65 years and older and those with compromised immune systems. Research finds that the mRNA booster strengthens the immune response and significantly reduces serious illness, hospitalizations, and death.
The CDC advises everyone ages 6 months and older receive COVID-19 vaccines and boosters for every individual 5 years and older. The new Moderna Spikevax Bivalent vaccine/booster targets the original strain of COVID-19 and the BA.1 omicron subvariant. Other vaccines to target additional subvariants are still being formulated and tested.
Think Whole Person Healthcare will soon be offering the current Moderna vaccine for those ages 12 and older, and will administer the new Spikevax Bivalent vaccine/booster when it becomes available later this fall.
Who needs the flu shot?
The contagious respiratory illness, influenza (flu) is a virus that infects the nose, throat, and lungs. Some older adults, young children, and people with certain health conditions such as diabetes, asthma and heart disease are at higher risk for potentially serious flu complications.
To protect yourself and others from the seasonal flu, the CDC recommends everyone 6 months and older needs a flu vaccine every year. Think health professionals will start giving flu shots in mid-September during regular practice hours. In addition, during the fall and winter flu season, think will offer a special flu shot clinic Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 3 p.m., also beginning in mid-September.
Where do I start with getting vaccinations?
- Talk to your think healthcare provider about scheduling any routine vaccines.
- Be sure to discuss any underlying health conditions that might affect the types of immunizations you need and the timing of the doses. In rare cases, some individuals with specific health risks and life-threatening allergies should not vaccinated for certain diseases.
- Note that some vaccines require more than one dose for best protection. Each recommended dose is important to your complete, long-term health.
LEARN MORE ABOUT VACCINATIONS AND DISEASE PREVENTION BY SPEAKING WITH YOUR PRIMARY CARE PROVIDER
Think makes it easy to receive both preventative care and treatment for your overall health and well-being. Our walk-in clinic treats anyone, even those who are not a think patient or do not have a primary care provider currently. To learn more about our wide-ranging healthcare services from family medicine and internal medicine to senior healthand physical therapy, visit our Services page online and choose your own think medical professionals by visiting our Meet Your Doctor page.