Immunizations Key to Staying Healthy

As school starts over the next couple of weeks, you’ll likely need to fill out health forms for your children. A big portion of the forms includes an immunization record. You may not think it’s a big deal for the school to know how many immunizations your child has had, but it is. Immunizations and keeping up with the schedule set out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are crucial to your child’s health as well as the health of those around him or her.

Why are immunizations so important? Last winter and spring, several schools throughout the region reported multiple students coming down with whooping cough, which causes uncontrollable, violent coughing. The teens who received their booster were better protected from the disease than those who didn’t. ThedaCare recently started a program at Theda Clark Medical Center in Neenah and Appleton Medical Center that provides whooping cough boosters to parents and others who may be in close contact with an unvaccinated newborn.

Then there are tetanus shots, which protects your child from that disease if he or she gets a deep wound or cut. Immunizations are also in place to help stop the spread of disease, especially to those who have yet to be fully immunized, such as infants.

Some people shy away from immunizations because of concerns linking the shots to autism. But multiple research projects have shown there is no link. Other parents think receiving so many shots before the age of 2 isn’t a good for their child’s health. Avoiding the shots all together isn’t the answer. If you are concerned your child is getting multiple immunizations at the same time, you can work together with your healthcare provider to spread them out a bit.

Other people may think immunizations aren’t needed since diseases such as polio or measles have been eliminated. That’s not true; people can still contract these diseases. They may not be as common as they once were, but they are still out there and if your child isn’t immunized from them, there’s a chance he or she may contract them and become very ill.

Immunizations don’t end with childhood. Teens should receive the meningococcal vaccine, which prevents against meningitis, and the HPV vaccine, which can prevent cervical cancer, as well as their whooping cough and tetanus boosters.

Adults need to make sure they are up to date on their tetanus boosters and whooping cough boosters too especially if they come in contact with infants.

Then there’s an immunization everyone should receive annually – the flu shot. The CDC recommends everyone over the age of 6 months get the vaccine against seasonal influenza each year. Without the influenza vaccination, you could contract it and wind up missing several days of work and school. There’s also the chance the influenza may become more serious and turn into pneumonia. And just like with other vaccinations, getting the flu shot helps prevent the spread of disease in the community, especially to those who cannot be vaccinated, such as babies. And if you’re over age 65, a vaccine against pneumonia is suggested each year.

Getting a shot isn’t any fun, but it’s worth a few seconds of pain to help prevent the spread of serious diseases in our community.

Scott Schuldes is a certified family nurse practitioner and associate medical director at ThedaCare Physicians-Hilbert. He can be reached at scott.schuldes@thedacare.org.