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Letter: Are you protected? Get immunized

Published 10:45am Wednesday, August 14, 2013

-National Immunization Awareness Month in August is a reminder that we all need vaccines right from the start and throughout our lives.  Immunizations provide protection against serious and sometimes deadly diseases.  Getting immunized not only protects you but also others in the community who may be unable to receive vaccines due to age, a weakened immune system or other health conditions.

While immunizations have significantly decreased the incidence of many serious infectious diseases, vaccination rates for some diseases are not meeting public health goals.  In the U.S., there has been a resurgence of whooping cough (pertussis) and measles over the past few years.  Preliminary data for 2012 show 41,000 cases of whooping cough and four measles outbreaks.

There are 14 recommended vaccines for children in their first two years.  Although this may seem excessive, Dr. Anne Schuchat, Assistant Surgeon General and Director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, says “The recommended immunization schedule is designed to offer protection early in life.  There is no known benefit to delaying vaccinations.  In fact, it puts babies at risk of getting sick because they are left vulnerable to catch serious diseases.”

Children age 4 to 6 are due for boosters of four vaccines.  Older children–like pre-teens and teens–also need boosters.  Why are boosters needed?  As they get older, children are at an increased risk of some infectious diseases.  Plus the protection provided by some of their earlier vaccines begins to wear off.  Finally, it’s the law.  Minnesota immunization law requires certain vaccines for admission to school.  The law does allow certain exemptions.

The need for immunizations doesn’t end at childhood.  Each year thousands of adults in the U.S. suffer serious health problems and even die from diseases that could be prevented by vaccines.  Every adult should get the Tdap vaccine once to protect against pertussis and then a Td (tetanus, diphtheria) booster every 10 years.  Other vaccines may be recommended due to their age, job, hobbies, travel, risk factors and health status.

Everyone age 6 months and older needs a seasonal flu shot every year.

Are you and your family protected?

Immunizations are available from your health care provider.  Immunizations are also available at Mower County Community Health’s  immunization clinic.  Clinics are held at their office at Oak Park Mall every Thursday from 3:00 to 4:30 PM.  To be eligible for the clinic you must be on MA or be uninsured or your insurance has no coverage for vaccines.  Please call 437-9799 for further information or questions.

Dorothy J. Meyer,

Mower County Health and Human Services

1301 18th Ave NW, Suite A

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