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Immunizations Remain Paramount in Preventive Care

person receiving vaccine from a doctor in a clinic

Four Popular Vaccines and Why They’re Important

By Kris Roloff, quality care coordinator at Network Health
Originally published on 9/17/2021 at 9:00 a.m.

Whether you have children going back to school or have simply been keeping up to date on your own preventative health measures, you know that vaccines are important for protection against severe illness all year long.

Available for many dangerous diseases, vaccines have prevented countless cases of disease and saved millions of lives over the years. Depending on several factors, including age, location, job, lifestyle, travel status, health conditions, previous vaccinations and more, different people are recommended to get different vaccines at different times.

Today, we’re going to look at four of the most commonly recommended and universally administered vaccines. This list includes the flu vaccine (influenza), pneumococcal vaccines, the shingles vaccine and the tetanus vaccine.

Why is the flu vaccine important?

The flu vaccine is recommended seasonally to prevent influenza, a contagious respiratory illness caused by a virus that infects the nose, throat and lungs. This virus causes mild to severe illness and can even lead to hospitalization and death.

Anybody can get the flu and every year in the United States, millions of people get sick, hundreds of thousands are hospitalized and thousands of people die from the flu. Experts at the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and recommend anybody six and older get the flu vaccine annually.

This is especially true for those who are at a higher risk of flu-related complications such as the following.

  • people 65 years and older
  • people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions (like diabetes, asthma or heart disease)
  • pregnant women
  • young children

The best way and most important step to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccine each year. In addition to helping prevent serious illness, flu vaccination can reduce doctor visits and missed work/school due to flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations. – an important consideration during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Why are pneumococcal vaccines important?

Pneumococcal vaccines help prevent pneumococcal disease, which is any type of illness caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria. There are two kinds of pneumococcal vaccines available in the United States.

  • Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine or PCV13
  • Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine or PPSV23

Experts at the CDC recommend PCV13 for all children younger than two years old and people two years or older with certain medical conditions. Adults 65 years or older also can discuss and decide with their clinician whether PCV13 is recommended.

CDC recommends PPSV23 for all adults 65 years or older, people 2-64 years old with certain medical conditions and adults 19-64 years old who smoke cigarettes.

Why the shingles vaccine is important

Shingles is a painful rash that usually develops on one side of the body, often the face or torso. This rash consists of blisters that typically scab over in 7-10 days and clear up within 2-4 weeks.

Some people describe the pain as an intense burning sensation. For some people, the pain can last for months or even years after the rash goes away. This long-lasting pain is called postherpetic neuralgia (PHN), and it is the most common complication of shingles. Your risk of getting shingles and PHN increase as you get older.

Recombinant zoster vaccine (RZV, Shingrix) is licensed in the United States and recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) to prevent shingles in adults 50 years and older.

Why is the tetanus vaccine important?

Vaccines are available that can help prevent tetanus, an infection caused by Clostridium tetani bacteria.

There are four vaccines used today to protect against tetanus, each of which also protects against other diseases.

  • Diphtheria and tetanus (DT) vaccines
  • Diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTaP) vaccines
  • Tetanus and diphtheria (Td) vaccines
  • Tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (Tdap) vaccines

Babies and children younger than 7 years old receive DTaP or DT while older children and adults receive Tdap and Td.

CDC recommends tetanus vaccination for all babies and children, preteens, teens and adults. Talk with your or your child’s healthcare professional if you have questions about tetanus vaccines.

Preventive care begins with vaccination

Vaccines have kept populations safe for over two hundred years. The modern CDC-recommended vaccine schedule will help you be healthy and strong all year round.

At Network Health, we’re building healthy and strong Wisconsin communities. Vaccines are an important part of that work. If you’re interested in learning more about how your Wisconsin health plan can help you stay safe, be healthy and feel great all year, contact us today.

Source: United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

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