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The Facts on Vaccinations

Salem Creekside Newsletter - August 2015
Facts on Vaccinations

Back-to-school is a natural time to think about vaccinations, but kids aren't the only ones with a recommended list of immunizations. August is National Immunization Awareness Month, and a good reminder for the whole family to get the necessary sticks so you're not stuck with a preventable disease.

From birth, children set out on a recommended and often, mandated, course of immunizations. Regulating a vaccinated population keeps children and adults safe from preventable disease, and has even led to the eradication of some diseases, such as smallpox and polio, from most parts of the world. A child receives most of these important vaccines within the first 18 months of life, on a course prescribed by their provider, and coinciding with regular checkups.

  • Hepatitis B (three doses)
  • Rotavirus (three doses)
  • Diphtheria-Tetanus-Pertussis (DTaP), four doses
  • Haemophilus Influenza Type B (Hib), four doses
  • Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV), four doses
  • Polio (four doses)
  • Influenza (yearly, starting at 6 months)
  • Measles-Mumps-Rubella
  • Varicella (chickenpox)
  • Hepatitis A

It seems like daunting list of immunizations, but the good news is that if your child misses a shot, you don't have to start over. In most cases, you can pick up where you left off at the next visit to the pediatrician.

When children enter school, at 4-6 years of age, they receive additional doses of DTap, IPV, MMR and Varicella. Around fifth grade, or age 11-12, children receive a dose of TDaP and are also vaccinated against Meningococcus. Another recommended vaccine for both g irls and boys is for Human Papillomavirus (HPV) which is thought to reduce the risk of cervical cancer later in life.

In Oregon, primary care providers submit vaccination information to a statewide database, the ALERT Immunization Information System (IIS). The information is compiled and stored so that parents, schools and daycare centers can verify a child's compliance with regulated vaccinations, and keep parents on track if they change healthcare providers.

Young adults entering college are recommended certain vaccinations and boosters. Those living in residential dorms are urged to receive a Meningococcal vaccine, and some colleges may even require it. An HPV vaccine is also recommended for young man and women who did not receive it as a teen.  As always, seasonal flu shots are recommended every year, even for healthy young adults.

Though not school-age, adults are never off the hook where vaccines are concerned. In addition to yearly flu shots,  and tetanus shots about every ten years, an adult's primary care provider may recommend shots you thought  you'd seen the last of at the pediatrician's office.

  • Varicella
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV)   for men and women                          
  • Herpes Zoster (Shingles)
  • Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR)                    
  • Pneumococcal
  • Meningococcal
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)

Women who plan to become pregnant should make sure they are current on all their immunizations prior to pregnancy, especially MMR, which protects against Rubella. Rubella can cause serious birth defects in babies. Pregnant women are encouraged to receive Influenza and TDaP. Flu shots are safe for pregnant women and guard against serious complications that can result if a woman contracts the flu while pregnant. TDaP should be administered with each pregnancy to protect against Pertussis (whooping cough) which can be life-threatening to infants.

Men and women over 60 and those with compromised immune systems may be at additional risk for communicable disease. Providers may recommend additional vaccinations for seniors.

  • Influenza (Flu)
  • Shingles (Herpes Zoster)
  • Diphtheria
  • Tetanus
  • Pertussis (Whooping Cough)
  • Pneumococcal disease (Pneumonia)

Have shot shyness? For children, distraction is a good strategy for easing immunization anxiety. For kids and adults alike, mild discomfort from a jab can be eased with a dose of ibuprofen or acetaminophen.

While some people shirk the shot to avoid the unpleasantness of needles, the benefits of safe, tested vaccines outweigh the brief poke.