Studies are showing that more and more parents are not taking their children for well visits and immunizations because they’re fearful about exposure to COVID-19. Kevin Via, MD, says immunization of children, especially in the first year of life, is extremely important. Without them, we could see a resurgence of vaccine-preventable illnesses.
Children typically begin their vaccines while in the hospital following birth with the hepatitis B vaccine. Other vaccines and booster shots follow at their well child checks for the next several years. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Academy of Family Physicians, and American Academy of Pediatrics strongly suggest children receive all vaccines according to the recommended vaccine schedule. Vaccines protect children against these illnesses:
Diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DTaP)
Hepatitis A (HepA)
Hepatitis B (HepB)
Human papillomavirus (HPV)
Measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR)
These vaccines protect children against disease and illness while also preventing the disease or virus from spreading. The most common side effects children experience after a vaccine are tenderness at the injection site, fever, and fussiness. Severe reactions to vaccines are rare. Talk to your pediatrician to find out what is recommended for managing side effects. In general, common side effects last only a day or two.
“It is important to remember that every person has different allergies and health care issues, so it is always recommended to discuss any potential vaccines with your doctor or your child’s pediatrician,” says Dr. Via.
What about immunizations for adults?
Dr. Via shared a breakdown of the recommended adult vaccines and who should get them.
Flu: The flu shot is recommended every year, starting in September, for people of all ages. This shot is yearly so the vaccine can keep up with the changing flu virus and offer the best protection.
Tetanus: A tetanus shot is recommended every 10 years for all ages in order to maintain immunity. This shot protects you against the bacterial infection tetanus, also known as lockjaw. Tetanus can get into the body through broken skin, most commonly through objects carrying the infection breaking through your skin, like a rusty nail or other sharp objects.
Pneumonia: The two pneumonia vaccines are Prevnar and Pneumovax, both one-time vaccines recommended for adults older than 65. It is recommended that you receive both shots. The second shot should be given a year after the first. Sometimes a pneumonia shot is given before the age of 65 if someone has medical problems such as diabetes or COPD. Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs.
Shingles: This two-dose vaccine is recommended for adults older than 50. Shingles is a viral infection that affects your nerves. It can cause burning, pain, tingling, or itching, as well as a rash and blisters.
Human papillomavirus (HPV): This vaccine is recommended for ages 11–27 for protection against certain types of HPV, a common virus that can cause cervical cancer. This is a two-dose vaccine that is given only once.
COVID-19: The recommendations for
this vaccine are changing often with different vaccine options available for protection against COVID-19. Please see the CDC website for the most up-to-date recommendations.
Travel: Travel vaccinations vary depending on your destination. These can include hepatitis A, typhoid, and yellow fever. The CDC website has good resources about recommendations specific to every country. You should start this process at least six months before your travel date.
Vaccines have long been a useful tool that keeps people healthy. Dr. Via says all the vaccines listed here have been thoroughly researched and proven to be safe. Common side effects that are not considered an emergency can include soreness at the injection site, fatigue, and headache.
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