Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Health & Wellness: Immunization

From the Grace Church Health and Wellness Committee, August 2007

Disease prevention is the key to public health. We are constantly concerned about our own health and the health and safety of our children. We try to take prudent steps to protect ourselves and our families. For instance, we use seatbelts for ourselves and our children when traveling in motor vehicles. Immunizations or vaccines also prevent us from developing illnesses caused by infectious and potentially deadly diseases by helping prepare our bodies to fight these diseases.

Preschool, kindergarten and elementary school children’s health records are often checked to assure that incoming children have received the proper childhood immunizations (e.g., diphtheria, Pertussis and Chick pox). Children with incomplete immunizations may be excluded from attending school until their immunizations are up to date. Similarly, each fall, senior citizens are encouraged to obtain flu vaccinations. Again, each of these vaccines helps to prepare our bodies to fight these diseases. Vaccines prevent disease in the people who receive them and protect those who come into contact with unvaccinated individuals. It is always better to do whatever possible to prevent a disease than to have to treat it.

Health professionals agree that in order for these immunizations to have maximum benefit, they should be administered on a recommended schedule. Your doctor and other health care providers are the best sources of information about which immunizations are best for you and/or your child and when the immunization should be administered. In the text below, the Health and Wellness Committee offers some guideline reminders.

  • Infants, preschoolers, and kindergarteners (Ages birth through 6 years) should receive the recommended series of vaccines for Hepatitis B (at birth), Diphtheria, Tetanus and Pertussis, Haemophilus influenza type b (Hib), Inactivated Poliovirus (first at two months), Measles, Mumps and Rubella, and Vericella (first at one year). Any of these vaccines that are not administered at the recommended age should be administered at any visit to the doctor when indicated and feasible.
  • Elementary school children through high school adolescents may need to receive vaccines for Hepatitis B, Tetanus, Diphtheria and Pertussis, Inactivated Poliovirus and Vericella particularly if they were not previously vaccinated. Recommended vaccines for children and adolescents include vaccines for meningitis (one dose) and Human Papillomavirus (3 doses) as well as booster doses for Tetanus, Diphtheria and Pertussis at age 11-12 years.
  • Adults often believe that vaccines to prevent diseases are just for children. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends booster shots for Tetanus, Diphtheria and Pertussis for those of us ages 19 through 64, Human Papillomavirus vaccines (3 doses) for women 19 – 49 years, and vaccines for Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Vericella, Influenza, Pneumocaccal, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis, B and Meningococcal for all adults who either (a) lack documentation of vaccination or have no evidence of prior infection, or (b) have some other risk factor such as medical condition, occupation or lifestyle.

Again, it is always better to do whatever possible to prevent a disease than to have to treat it.

Should you have concerns or want additional information about the material presented above, please contact your local health care provider or public health department. You may also choose to contact someone on the Health and Wellness Ministry Committee. This Committee is chaired by Mrs. Florence Poyer.

Prepared by: Walter S. Handy, Ph.D., Member, Grace Church Health and Wellness Ministry Committee

No comments: