Immunization Awareness – Get Your Shots!

August is National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM). It is the perfect time to remind people to get up to date with their immunizations (or vaccinations) with school starting and flu season just around the corner. An immunization is a way to trigger your immune system to build protection against a certain disease or pathogen.  People of all ages need to be up to date with their vaccinations to help maintain their health.  I will focus on adult immunizations and flu shots in this post. The CDC website offers great material to educate people more thoroughly on immunizations and when to get them. It also includes an immunization schedule for adults and children.

Many people think that immunizations are only for children. That is not the case. Adults need immunizations as well. Some vaccines that are common for adults are the flu shot, tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (Tdap), Shingles (60 and older), pneumococcal disease (65 and older) and hepatitis B for diabetic individuals or people who may be at risk for hepatitis B. This is not an inclusive list. You should talk with your doctor to see which immunizations would be right for you. You should also review your current immunization status before you travel. Make an appointment with your doctor 4 to 6 weeks before your trip so he/she can go over all of the vaccines that are required and recommended. You can contact your local clinic to see your current immunization record.

You should get a flu shot every year to stay current. The flu shot protects against 3 types of influenza: H3N2 virus, influenza B and H1N1. The flu shot is approved for kids and adults 6 months of age and older. If you are 65 and older you have a higher risk of serious complications related to the flu. People with other health issues such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer and asthma have a greater risk of complications from the flu. Flu season is considered October through May. You also should not procrastinate getting your flu shot. Immunity will set in about 2 weeks after you receive your immunization. But remember, just because you get an immunization does not guarantee that you will not get the flu. It just greatly reduces your chances.


The author of this blog post is Amanda Braness, RN Case Manager in our Willmar office.