National Immunization Month
Dr. D’s Medical Update
Hello everyone! I want to share some important information about National Immunization Month. This special month is dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of vaccines in keeping us healthy and preventing diseases. Vaccines are like superheroes for our bodies, helping us fight off dangerous germs and stay healthy!
Vaccines are tiny, weakened, or inactivated versions of harmful germs, like viruses or bacteria. When you get vaccinated, your body learns how to recognize these germs and make special proteins called antibodies. These antibodies protect you from getting sick if you ever come across real germs in the future.
Vaccines are essential for several reasons:
- Prevention: Vaccines prevent dangerous diseases like measles, mumps, and whooping cough, which can make you very sick or even lead to serious complications. Over the last 3 years, we have all learned about the COVID vaccines to help prevent infection and hospitalization.
- Community Health: When many people get vaccinated, it creates “herd immunity.” This means the germs have a hard time spreading, protecting even those who cannot get vaccinated, like babies or people with weak immune systems.
- Safe and Effective: Vaccines are thoroughly tested to ensure they are safe and work well. They have been protecting people worldwide for many years!
Here are some common vaccines you might have heard about:
- MMR: Protects against measles, mumps, and rubella.
- DTaP: Guards against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (whooping cough).
- HPV: Helps prevent certain types of cancers caused by the human papillomavirus.
- Flu: Protects against the seasonal influenza virus.
This fall, our senior patients will have access to a vaccine against Respiratory Syncytial Virus, RSV. This is a virus that often affects infants and toddlers but can cause significant illness in older patients. The vaccine should be available around the same time as the flu shot this year.
For those over 50, the shingles vaccine is very important. If a person gets a shingles outbreak, it can cause significant pain long after the rash resolves. The vaccine requires 2 shots given 1-2 months apart. Recent legislation has made the vaccine free for many patients.
Vaccines are incredibly safe, but like any medicine, they may have some side effects. Common side effects are mild, like a sore arm or a slight fever. These go away quickly and are a sign that your body is building immunity. The benefits of vaccines far outweigh the risks of getting sick from preventable diseases.
In conclusion, National Immunization Month is a fantastic time to learn about the power of vaccines. By getting vaccinated, you protect yourself, your friends, and your family from dangerous diseases. Vaccines are a crucial part of staying healthy and keeping our community strong. So, let’s celebrate National Immunization Month by getting vaccinated and being superheroes for our health! Stay safe and be well!
Michael Dominguez, MD, FAAFP, is board certified in Family Medicine. His office is located at HealthTexas Medical Group, 590 N. General McMullen, 78228, phone: 210-249-0212.