August is National Immunization Awareness Month, a time to highlight the importance of vaccination for people of all ages. Immunizations are important as they help prevent serious, sometimes deadly, diseases. Vaccines protect us from diseases like chickenpox, flu, hepatitis, measles, mumps, meningococcal, pneumonia, shingles, pertussis (whooping cough), polio and more.
With school quickly approaching, it’s time to check immunization records to see if your children are up to date, and now is also the time to consider your own status on immunizations as they are not just for children. Protection from some childhood vaccines can wear off over time. Adults may also be at risk for vaccine-preventable disease due to age, job, lifestyle, travel, or health conditions.
With an increase in local cases of shingles, Mille Lacs Health System would like to highlight the need for this particular vaccine. It is recommended that adults 50 years and older receive the shingles vaccine. According to the CDC, the incidence of shingles annually in the U.S. is 4 cases per 1,000 people. Among people over 60 years old, it is about 1 case per 100 U.S. population annually. It is important to note, the shingles vaccine is a 2-dose series, with the second shot administered 2 to 6 months after the first shot.
Shingles is caused by the same virus as chicken pox. After people recover from chicken pox, the virus stays dormant in the body. Years later, it can reactivate as shingles and the risk of getting shingles and postherpetic neuralgia (burning nerve pain from the shingles) increases as people age. Even if you had shingles in the past, you can get it again, so the vaccine is recommended as shingles can be extremely painful.
Don’t forget to inquire with your medical provider regarding your full vaccination record and confirm you are current on all necessary vaccines and boosters. And, make a note: flu shot season is just around the corner.