August is National Immunization Awareness Month! Yeah, yeah, I know - not everyone is keen to get a shot. But immunizations are the best way to protect yourself and your family members from some bad diseases. For anyone coping with a chronic disease getting vaccinated is a simple and important strategy.
- Haven't had a vaccination in years? You might not know there are new vaccines not available when we were kids. Today, there are vaccinations against hepatitis, pneumococcus (Pneumovax, Prevnar), meningitis, papilloma virus (Gardasil, Cervarix), chickenpox and shingles (Zostavax) besides the childhood diseases we were vaccinated against back when. If, like me, you don't have an up to date record of which vaccinations you received and when, you may also not have had the periodic booster shots needed to keep immunity levels up.
- The good news is there are several web sites that show you the recommended vaccines and booster shots. A good site is the is the Center for Disease Control (CDC) site and here's the link. It provides recommendations for adults, but you can also link from the site to schedules for your teens or younger children.
- Here's a personal recommendation - many of us are outdoors more this time of year, gardening, camping, etc., which means exposure to real dirt, the kind you dig in, not the casual dustbunnies hiding behind the couch or chest of drawers. Real dirt is where clostridium tetani resides, the bacteria that cause tetanus. (Here's a link to the Wikipedia article and a scary picture of tetanus!) You probably got a vaccination against tetanus (it's the T in TDaP shots - formerly called DPT) years ago, but did you know a booster shot is recommended every 10 years for tetanus and diptheria (the D in DTaP)? If you haven't had a booster for longer than that, invest in yourself this month:)
- Some medical conditions such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and medications like steroids or immunologic drugs like Humira and Remicade may make a difference in deciding which vaccinations are appropriate and when. Discuss your individual situation with your doctor!
Want additional info on vaccinations? We'll be putting out additional blogs this month on the subject, so please watch for them. You can also download our helpful guide: