(August 29, 2022) – August is National Immunization Awareness Month, and its timing coincides with students starting or heading back to school and people moving indoors when the weather cools. As we all interact more closely, the chance of contracting the flu or other diseases is heightened, so appropriate protection is key.
The goal of National Immunization Awareness Month is to raise awareness of the need to get recommended vaccines from infancy through old age. Circumstances change at different points of life, so it’s good to stay abreast of the ways you can maintain your health at various stages. As an individual, it’s important to maximize your own well-being, but it’s also essential to play your part in ensuring that others are protected, especially pregnant women, babies, seniors, people fighting diseases, and people who have compromised immunity.
Get the Facts
Responsibility to ourselves and others means having an ongoing dialogue with a family doctor or health care professional, who can share important data, answer questions, and help determine what’s optimal for each person. Misinformation shouldn’t prevent anyone from taking heed of science-based medical guidelines promoting individual and public health. Agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Health Council are helpful resources in this regard.
Currently, the COVID-19 vaccination and its boosters are widely available. With new and evolving variations raising infection rates, it’s time to roll up your sleeve if you haven’t yet been vaccinated. With a few quick shots, you can minimize the severity of any symptoms you may experience should you happen to contract the respiratory disease.
It’s also time to begin getting your annual flu shot. The season begins in September and runs as late as May, peaking in severity between October and January. Each year, the most prominent strains are anticipated and identified, and the vaccination is created to diminish their impact. Insurance typically covers the flu shot, and it’s an easy way to avoid getting sick when the virus is at its most potent. The vaccination is easy to find at pharmacies, doctors’ offices, and health care centers. For seniors 65 and older, doctors recommend a special high-dose formulation that provides a better immune response. Ask for it if you’re eligible.
Shots for Seniors
Beyond flu shots, older Americans also need to consider getting vaccinations for pneumonia and shingles too. These readily available shots can help minimize dangerous respiratory conditions and prevent you from developing life-threatening infections. They can also head off the excruciating pain resulting from a reactivated chicken pox virus (or the lingering pain that sometimes follows the virus, known as post-herpetic neuralgia).
The Good News
According to the World Health Organization, vaccines can now help people survive more than 20 diseases that would otherwise threaten their lives, like the measles, flu, tetanus, whooping cough, and diphtheria. Fortunately, immunizations are estimated to prevent 3.5 to 5 million deaths each year, and thanks to sophisticated medicine and good habits, you can be part of the knowledgeable group that skirts the most dire effects and thrives!
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) • 800-232-4636 • 888-232-6348 (TTY) • [email protected] • www.cdc.gov
- National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases • 866-284-4107 • 800-877-8339 (TTY) • [email protected] • www.niaid.nih.gov
- Vaccines.gov • 800-232-0233 • 888-720-7489 (TTY) • www.vaccines.gov