Other’s opinion: Shots are our defense against multiple illnesses

Published 5:27 pm Tuesday, October 19, 2021

The Free Press, Mankato

Shot fatigue. COVID-19, flu, shingles, tetanus, chickenpox, measles-mumps-rubella vaccines and others. So many shots, so many vaccines.

But even if we may tire of hearing about all the protection we should seek through vaccinations, keep in mind how lucky we are to have access to them. Not everyone everywhere does.

An additional 1.5 million deaths could be avoided annually if global vaccination coverage improves, according to the World Health Organization.

The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown preventive health care into disarray, causing disruptions to routine checkups and updating of immunizations, both for adults and children.

Delaying protective vaccinations, however, can be costly to overall health and to pocketbooks if you or your children end up suffering from a preventable disease. Keeping up on infant and childhood vaccinations means it is safer for them to be in larger groups where transmission is more likely.

Besides the need to get as many eligible people vaccinated against COVID-19 because of the pandemic, vaccines work with the body’s defenses to help you safely develop immunity to other diseases or suffering from their complications, says the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC cites the benefits of specific vaccines: Flu vaccine lowers your risk of flu-related heart attacks or other flu-related complications from existing health conditions like diabetes and chronic lung disease; hepatitis B vaccine lowers your risk of liver cancer; HPV vaccine lowers your risk of cervical cancer.

Fewer cases of the flu surfaced last season because people were isolating, masking and social distancing. With more people out and about and not practicing those protocols as intensely, vaccination against the flu is more important than ever. Six school outbreaks of the flu had already occurred as of Oct. 9 in Minnesota, according to the state Department of Health.

Vaccines are the scientific miracle that so many lives have benefitted from over the years to protect populations against measles, polio, chickenpox and other childhood diseases as well as the seasonal flu. Being weary of vaccinations is not an excuse to let your guard down.

The only vaccine fatigue that’s understandable is the kind you might get after receiving a shot.