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Immunize and prevent the spread

September 9, 2018

Back-to-school season is here. As you start adding dates and activities to your family calendar, don’t forget, now is also a good time to ensure that vaccinations are up to date.

While immunizations significantly reduced the incidence of many serious infectious diseases, vaccination rates for some disease are not meeting national public health goals. According to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, “Historically, Idaho and other western states have had lower immunization rates than the national average.”

The best way to safeguard our community is through vaccinating as many individuals as possible. When significant numbers have immunity, it provides a measure of protection for individuals who have not developed immunity. Typically a child needs several doses (boosters) of any given vaccine to develop immunity. Because these are given over many months, children remain susceptible to infection until the series is complete. During this time, children depend on a low level of infection or a high immunization rate in the community to avoid disease.

Of course, when it comes to talking about immunizations, we often think of children and overlook the importance of immunizations across the lifespan, from infants to the elderly. Yes, all adults should get vaccines to protect their health. Even healthy adults can become seriously ill and pass certain illnesses on to others. Being up to date on vaccinations are especially important for older adults and for adults with chronic conditions such as asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, diabetes or heart disease. For those who are in close contact with the very young, the very old, people with weakened immune systems and those who cannot be vaccinated, being up to date on vaccinations is quite important.

All adults should get a flu vaccine each year. Additionally, every adult should get the Td or Tdap vaccine once if they did not receive it as an adolescent to protect against pertussis (whooping cough), and then a Td (tetanus, diphtheria) booster should every 10 years. Depending on occupation, travel, health status, vaccination history and other risk factors, adults may need other vaccines such as shingles, pneumococcal, hepatitis and HPV.

Portneuf Primary Care’s knowledgeable staff is here if you need us. To reach my office to schedule an appointment, call 208-239-3815.

Dr. Luis M. Fernandez is board certified in family medicine. He graduated from Instituto Superior de Ciencias Medicas, Cuba and completed residency training at Idaho State University Family Medicine. Portneuf Primary Care is currently taking new patients.

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