The preventive power of vaccinations has been known for a long time. Accounts exist of crude attempts to protect people from disease by exposing them to just a bit of disease in this way that go as far back as the 11th century in China and India.
Fast forward a few centuries, and we know that none other than President John Adams and his wife, Abigail, bravely allowed their children to undergo exposure to smallpox in the 1770s. Their form of protection involved a physician introducing the smallpox virus via a serum, scraping their skin, and rubbing the serum into the wound, thereby exposing each child’s immune system to it.
Keeping patients of all ages up-to-date on their vaccinations is a top priority for the care provider team at Healthy Life Medicine. As part of your customized preventive health plan, we discuss your vaccine needs at your routine wellness exams and administer any that you may need. We also offer a full range of services for your family.
How do vaccines work?
The principle behind vaccinations is quite ingenious. The idea is that, even though your immune system is hearty and combats most pathogens (germs), vaccines introduce your immune system to others that can often have severe symptoms or even be lethal. In modern times, a frightening disease we eradicated with vaccines is polio.
When you’re sick and when you get a vaccine, your body does what it should when it senses a foreign invader: It makes antibodies to fight it. If you’ve been vaccinated for measles, for example, your body is successfully able to fight the illness because it recognizes it and knows better what to do.
We can’t get complacent about vaccines though, or dreaded diseases come roaring back.
I still got the flu after my shot — should I still get vaccinated?
Some vaccinations may not fully prevent disease but can minimize your symptoms considerably and prove lifesaving if you’re infected, keeping you out of the hospital. Two examples of these are your yearly flu shots and the COVID-19 vaccine.
What vaccinations are recommended for my family?
Your age is the main factor that determines which vaccines you need and when you should get them. Infants and children receive vaccinations for:
- Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis)
- Hepatitis B
- MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella)
- Varicella (chicken pox)
- Hepatitis A
- HPV (human papillomavirus)
- Meningococcal disease (two types)
- Pneumonia and other diseases caused by the pneumococcal bacteria
- Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib)
- COVID-19 (for children ages 5-15)
Adults can tend to let their vigilance about vaccines go by the wayside, but vaccines remain important throughout your entire life. For example, a shingles shot for those 55 and over can prevent awful, long-lasting pain from this rash that can emerge in those who have had chickenpox. Adults should get the following vaccines:
- HPV (for those 19-26 if unvaccinated)
- Meningitis (young adults)
- Shingles (50 and over)
- Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine, or PPSV23 (65 and over)
- Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13) (65 and over)
- COVID-19 vaccine series
For something that takes just a minute, vaccines give you long-term protection against virulent diseases, from whooping cough and HPV, which is linked to certain cancers, to the flu and COVID-19.
When you vaccinate yourself and your family, you’re not only protecting yourselves, but you’re also protecting your community.
Our caring team regularly discusses whether you and your children are on schedule for your vaccines, and all questions are welcome. Part of that conversation may include deciding whether you’re in need of any booster shots.
Remember, too, that living with certain conditions or being immunocompromised might cause your doctor to recommend getting certain vaccines at different times.
Call our office today to schedule an appointment to talk about vaccines, or contact us through our website.