With flu season fast approaching now is a good time to talk about immunizations. There is a lot of mis-information out there, so let’s clear the confusion and put your mind at ease about one of the best things you can do to protect the health of yourself and your loved ones. As we saw earlier this year with the regional outbreak of Measles in Minnesota, neglecting immunizations can be dangerous and even deadly.
Vaccines are used to boost your immune system and prevent serious, life-threatening diseases. Vaccines “teach” your body how to defend itself when germs, such as viruses or bacteria, invade it:
- They expose you to a very small, very safe amount of viruses or bacteria that have been weakened or killed.
- Your immune system then learns to recognize and attack the infection if you are exposed to it later in life.
- As a result, you will not become ill, or you may have a milder infection. This is a natural way to deal with infectious diseases.
For a few weeks after birth, babies have some protection from germs that cause diseases. This protection is passed from their mother before birth. After a short period, this natural protection goes away. Vaccines help protect against many diseases that used to be much more common (tetanus, diphtheria, mumps, measles, pertussis (whooping cough), meningitis, and polio). Many of these infections can cause serious or life-threatening illnesses and may lead to life-long health problems. Because of vaccines, many of these illnesses are now rare.
Some people worry that vaccines are not safe and may be harmful, especially for children. They may ask their health care provider to wait or even choose not to have the vaccine. But the benefits of vaccines far outweigh their risks. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Institute of Medicine all conclude that the benefits of vaccines outweigh their risks.
One of the most common misconceptions about vaccines is that thimerosal in vaccines causes autism. Thimerosal is a preservative that was found in most vaccines in the past. But now:
- Only one third of flu shots still have thimerosal.
- NO other vaccines commonly used for children or adults contain thimerosal.
- Research done over many years has NOT shown any link between thimerosal and autism or other medical problems, the company that originally published the article has pulled it and the author was de-credentialed.
- Flu – Nearly everyone over 6 month old.
- Tetanus – Everyone needs a booster every 10 years (or women with EVERY pregnancy).
- Shingles – Nearly everyone over age 50.
- Pneumonia – Nearly everyone over age 65.
- If you have diabetes, heart disease, asthma or COPD you may also need other vaccines.
Please visit with any of our friendly Pharmacy staff, we would be happy to discuss which immunizations would be right for you or your loved ones at any time. Thank you!
Pharmacy Clinical Program Mgr