Don't Forget It Is Back To School Immunization Time Even During COVID-19!
August is National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM). This annual observance highlights the importance of getting recommended vaccines throughout your life. You have the power to protect yourself and your family against serious diseases [like whooping cough, cancers caused by HPV, and pneumonia] through on-time vaccination. During NIAM, Health Plan Partners encourages you talk to your doctor, nurse, or other healthcare professional to ensure you and your family are up to date on recommended vaccines. We also encourage you to visit CDC’s Interactive Vaccine Guide, which provides information on the vaccines recommended during pregnancy and throughout your child’s life.
What are some reasons to get immunized?
- Immunizations protect you or your child from dangerous diseases.
- They help reduce the spread of disease to others.
- They are often needed for entrance into school or day care. And they may be needed for employment or for travel to another country.
- Getting immunized costs less than getting treated for the diseases that the shots protect you from.
- The risk of getting a disease is much greater than the risk of having a serious reaction to the vaccine.
- When immunization rates drop below a certain level, preventable diseases show up again. Often, these diseases are hard to treat. For example, measles outbreaks still occur in the U.S.
If you are a woman who is planning to get pregnant, talk to your doctor about what immunizations you have had and what you may need to protect your baby. And if you live with a pregnant woman, make sure your vaccines are up-to-date.
Traveling to other countries may be another reason to get immunized. Talk with your doctor months before you leave, to see if you need any shots.
What immunizations are recommended for children and adolescents?
Ask your doctor what shots your child should get. The immunization schedule includes vaccines for:
- Bacterial meningitis.
- Diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (also known as whooping cough).
- Flu (influenza).
- Haemophilus influenzae type b disease, or Hib disease.
- Hepatitis A.
- Hepatitis B.
- Human papillomavirus (HPV).
- Measles, mumps, and rubella.
- Pneumococcal disease.
Immunizations start right after birth, and many are given throughout a baby's first 23 months. Booster shots (the later doses of any vaccines that need to be repeated over time) occur throughout life.
Fewer immunizations are needed after age 6. But older children and teens need shots too (such as those for bacterial meningitis and for tetanus, diphtheria, and whooping cough). Some shots are also given during adulthood (such as a tetanus shot).
It is important to keep a good record, including a list of any reactions to the vaccines. When you enroll your child in day care or school, you may need to show proof of immunizations. Your child may also need the record later in life for college, employment, or travel.
Talk to your doctor if you or your child plans to be in a group living situation, like a college dormitory or summer camp. You may want certain shots, like those for meningitis.
What vaccines are recommended for adults?
The vaccines you need as an adult depend not only on your age, lifestyle, overall health, pregnancy status, and travel plans but also on who you are in close contact with and what vaccines you had as a child.
Talk to your doctor about which vaccines you need. Common adult vaccines include:
- Human papillomavirus (HPV).
- Tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis.
In some states, pharmacists can give some of these shots.
What are the side effects of vaccines?
Most side effects from vaccines are minor, if they occur at all. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about the reactions that could occur. They may include:
- Redness, mild swelling, or soreness where the shot was given.
- A slight fever.
- Drowsiness, crankiness, and poor appetite.
- A mild rash 7 to 14 days after chickenpox or measles-mumps-rubella shots.
- Temporary joint pain after a measles-mumps-rubella shot.
Serious reactions, such as trouble breathing or a high fever are rare. If you or your child has an unusual reaction, call your doctor.
Well-Child Visits and Vaccinations Are Essential Services
Children need to be protected against vaccine-preventable diseases. Well-child visits and vaccinations are essential services and help make sure children are protected. Children who are not protected by vaccines may be more likely to get diseases like measles and whooping cough. As communities are opening up, it’s important for parents to work with their children’s doctor or nurse to make sure their children stay up to date on routine vaccines.
Going to Medical Offices During the COVID-19 Outbreak
If your child is due for a well-child visit, call the doctor’s office and ask about ways they safely offer well-child visits during this time. Many medical offices are taking extra steps to make sure that well visits can happen safely during the COVID-19 outbreak, including:
- Scheduling sick visits and well-child visits during different times of the day
- Asking patients to remain outside until it’s time for their appointment to reduce the number of people in waiting rooms
- Offering sick visits and well-child visits in different locations
Get Vaccinated Before You Travel
Protect your child and family when traveling in the United States or abroad by:
Avoid getting sick or coming back home and spreading the disease to others.
Vaccinate at least a month before you travel
See your doctor when you start to plan your trip abroad. It’s important to do this well in advance.
When traveling to another country be aware your doctor may not carry a travel vaccine and you may have to visit a medical clinic.
Many travel vaccines require multiple shots or take time to become fully effective. But some multiple-dose vaccines (like hepatitis A) can still give you partial protection after just one dose. Some can also be given on an “accelerated schedule,” meaning doses are given in a shorter period of time.