By Ernst Lamothe Jr.
Despite COVID-19 no longer taking up headlines, vaccination remains at the forefront of many people’s minds.
However, vaccines are far ranging and not just important for preventing the disease that spread worldwide. They are critical for protecting both children and adults from a range of diseases.
“Vaccines in general are very important. They are essential because they help fight infections and help you build antibodies,” said Samantha Blais, physician assistant for Oswego Family Physicians.
1 — Benefits of Vaccination
The benefits of vaccination cannot be overstated. Vaccines protect individuals from serious and sometimes life-threatening illnesses, but they also protect communities as a whole by reducing the spread of disease. This is particularly important for individuals who are unable to receive certain vaccines due to medical reasons, such as those who are immunocompromised. Vaccination has been proven to reduce the incidence of many infectious diseases, including measles, mumps, rubella, polio and HPV.
“By getting vaccinated, you are not just helping yourself but your community. If enough people get vaccinated you create a herd immunity, which is when the majority of a population develops immunity against a contagious disease,” Blais said.
2 — Safety
While nationwide public opinion varies, the medical community touts its success and safety. The process for developing and approving vaccines is rigorous and includes clinical trials and extensive testing to ensure both their safety and efficacy. In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has monitoring systems in place to continue tracking vaccine safety even after they are approved for use.
In addition, vaccines do not cause autism. This myth has been perpetuated for years, but multiple studies have proven that vaccines are not the cause of autism. The original study linking vaccines to autism has been retracted and debunked, and the overwhelming scientific consensus is that vaccines are safe. Pregnant women should also get vaccinated. Vaccination can protect both the mother and the fetus from serious diseases, such as influenza.
“Not only are vaccines extremely safe, but it is a great health initiative to help the overall population. This is how we address infections nationwide and keep everyone safe,” added Blais.
3 — Vaccines for kids
The most important vaccines for children include DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis), MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella), and HPV (human papillomavirus). These vaccines protect children from serious illnesses and diseases that could lead to complications and even death.
Vaccination continues to be the most effective way to protect individuals from serious and life-threatening illnesses. It is important for both children and adults to receive all the recommended vaccines to protect themselves and their communities. Vaccines are safe and have been thoroughly tested before being approved for use. If you have any concerns or questions about vaccinations, speak with your healthcare provider.
“We recommend that you follow up with your pediatrician because they know the full schedule you need from the time you are a newborn,” said Blais. “This is something that we push because when kids are not vaccinated routinely, that is when you start seeing the spread of certain diseases whether that is measles or chickenpox.”
4 — Vaccines for adults
Vaccines remain just as important for adults as they are for children. Many adults need booster shots for vaccines they received as children, such as tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis. In addition, adults should receive certain vaccines based on their age, health status and occupation.
“When it comes to adults, we recommend various vaccinations whether that is shingles, the flu vaccine or receiving your tetanus booster every 10 years. We don’t want people thinking that just because you are an adult, you no longer need to be concerned about vaccinations,” she added.
5 — COVID-19 update
This summer the CDC has made some slight changes to its recommendations for vaccinations. There is an updated vaccine dose for adults 65 and older and additional doses for people who are immunocompromised. This allows more flexibility for healthcare providers to administer additional doses to immunocompromised patients as needed. CDC recommends that everyone aged 6 and older receive an update. For young children, multiple doses continue to be recommended and will vary by age, vaccine, and which vaccines were previously received.
Top image: Sami Blais is a physician assistant for Oswego Family Physicians.