Immunizations important for all ages | TheUnion.com

Immunizations important for all ages

Immunizations are considered one of the success stories of modern medicine. According to the World Health Organization, vaccinations help to prevent an estimated 2 to 3 million deaths each year worldwide. Already, smallpox has been eradicated internationally, and polio is no longer found in the U.S.

"We are lucky to have access to these modern medical wonders," says Andrew Burt, MD, of Sierra Care Physicians in Penn Valley.

Burt saw firsthand the importance of immunization while working at a medical clinic in Nairobi, Kenya, during his medical residency.

"Infectious diseases such as polio can be easy to forget here in the U.S., but spending a few days caring for children who survived diseases that we rarely see here due to immunizations easily convinced me of its importance," said Burt.

According to Burt, immunizations are critical to the health of both individuals and communities. "They protect against life threatening diseases in vaccinated individuals as well as in children and adults who are unable to receive immunizations because of chronic medical conditions."

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This protection is called "community immunity."

In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control recommends a standard schedule of vaccinations beginning at birth. A complete list of the schedule can be found at cdc.gov/vaccines, which includes vaccinations for polio, hepatitis, diphtheria, and other harmful diseases.

Since 2016, children in California are required to be immunized prior to entering public school, private school, or childcare, unless there is a medical exemption.

Burt shares that when parents ask for his advice about immunization, he explains, "It is true that no immunization is 100 percent effective or 100 percent safe (as with any medical treatment), but there is overwhelming evidence that the benefits of immunizations outweigh the risks."

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics' website, healthychildren.org, vaccine safety studies are constantly conducted and published, and the studies continue to find vaccines to be a safe and effective way to prevent serious disease.

If you, like most people, tend to shy away from needles, you aren't out of the woods once you reach adulthood. Immunizations aren't just for children. Some childhood vaccines wear off over time, and additional vaccination boosters are required.

Standard adult immunizations include a tetanus booster every 10 years, a single pertussis (whooping cough) booster, and pneumonia immunizations at age 65.

The newest immunization update for adults is for Shingrix, a shingles vaccine that became available this year. It is recommended for individuals age 50 and over, regardless of whether an individual has had previous shingles vaccinations.

The new vaccine is proving to be over 90 percent effective in preventing the painful disease which affects approximately 30 percent of people in the U.S. at some point in their lifetime.

And for those who travel to foreign countries, additional immunizations are recommended. Burt suggests visiting cdc.gov/travel for basic information on immunizations for travel to any specific country.

If you have questions about whether you are up-to-date on your vaccinations, check with your primary care provider and remember to bring any immunization records to that appointment.

There are many online resources on immunizations:

• familydoctor.org

• aap.org/immunization • vaccine.org

• who.int/topics/vaccines/en

Back to School Vaccines for Children – Clinic Today

The Nevada County Public Health Department provides immunizations through the Vaccines for Children program for children who are covered by Medi-Cal, or uninsured, or American Indian or Alaskan Native.

Back to School Vaccines for Children Clinic takes place Aug. 14 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Grass Valley Veteran’s Hall. Walk in appointments only, and wait times will vary.

For more information, call 530-265-7265 or visit mynevadacounty.com/609/Immunization-Program.