In August, we celebrated National Immunization Awareness Month. Now, many of us are also in full swing back-to-school mode. And of course, we’ve just entered the dreaded 2013-2014 flu season… so, immunizations are certainly top of mind!
What exactly is an immunization? Immunization is the process where we become immune or resistant to an infectious disease. One of the ways this is done is through vaccines. Vaccinations have significantly reduced the incidence of an estimated 2 – 3 million serious infectious diseases in the U.S. and around the world. Immunizations are not just for children and babies – they are needed throughout our lifetime.
Parents, did you know that by age 2, immunizations protect your child from 14 serious illnesses? You can learn about the different vaccines that your baby needs from a reliable source. The CDC’s Web site for parents explains the many diseases that vaccines prevent and the possible side effects of vaccines. It also offers a parent-friendly schedule of when your baby should receive specific immunizations.
As previously mentioned, this is the time of year when children are headed back to school. This is yet another reminder of why immunizations are so important! Most schools require children to be current on vaccinations to protect the health of all students. When children are not vaccinated, they are at an increased risk and can spread diseases to others in the classroom and community. This can be especially dangerous for babies who are too young to be fully vaccinated, and people with weakened immune systems resulting from varying health conditions like cancer. Again, the CDC Web site will help to make sure that you send your children back to school with updated vaccines.
For those headed back to college, you, too, need to be vaccinated to protect yourself and others! Immunity from childhood diseases may wear off over time and some deadly diseases like Meningitis can spread quickly in settings like college dorms and classrooms. Ask your healthcare provider about which vaccines you should be getting before college, and check out this Web site.
Anyone traveling outside of the country may also need additional vaccinations, depending on the destination. There are many diseases prevalent in other parts of the world that require different vaccinations than those routinely administered here in the U.S. Again, the CDC offers a useful tool where you can select the country you are traveling to and see the necessary vaccines for that destination.
And, last but certainly not least, the dreaded 2013-2014 flu season has arrived! All adults are reminded that we, too, need to stay updated on our vaccinations. Getting vaccinated is the best protection against influenza during flu season! The CDC recommends that everyone over the age of 6 months be vaccinated annually, especially senior citizens, pregnant women, caregivers, and those with chronic health conditions including diabetes, asthma, and chronic lung disease.
Mark your calendar for our Annual Drive Thru Flu Clinic on Saturday, September 14th! Back by popular demand, our drive thru clinic allows you to get your flu shot early without even leaving your car! Bring the whole family and wing by the Ashburn office from 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. or the Gainesville office from 8 a.m. – 12 p.m. Vaccines will be $20 per person; cash only.
If you can’t make the Drive Thru Flu Clinic, swing by any of our Urgent Care Centers at your convenience for a nurse visit to get your flu shot. Or, schedule an appointment with your primary care provider.
Additional vaccines that you may need as an adult are determined by factors including your age, lifestyle, job, health history, and previous vaccination history. For example, healthcare workers need to be sure that they are immunized for Hepatitis B. For more information, here are some great sources for you to check out:
-Posted by Dana Mohl, FNP