Over the past year many of us have put routine healthcare and vaccinations on the back burner, but now that we are finally turning the corner with COVID-19, it's a great time to get your family's health back on track.
There's been a lot of attention on the COVID-19 vaccine, but Dr. Amy Khan with Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Utah says that while there is reason to be excited, it is not the only vaccine we should be getting.
Khan says, "It’s important to also think of those other vaccines that are safe and effective in preventing the transmission of other infections or the preventing more serious illness should you become infected."
She says we should all get our annual flu shot and a tetanus diphtheria booster every ten years may be in order for adults. For those age 50 and older, a two dose shingles vaccine is highly recommended and those 65 and older need a pneumonia shot.
"If you’ve never had a Tdap vaccine say as a child, you should get one. And even pregnant women should be getting a Tdap vaccine to help protect those newborns against pertussis or whooping cough."
Pediatricians are concerned that parents are not keeping their kids up-to-date on routine vaccinations. Dr. Khan says, "We saw this past year that some parents might have missed their well child visits. Now is an excellent time to get in to see your pediatrician or family doctor."
Khan says it's vital to ensure children get their needed vaccines, and for pre-teens, she says a Tdap booster and HPV Vaccine is recommended - given in two doses.
"Here in Utah we see that about 2/3 of the kids have gotten their first shot, but less than 25 percent have received that second shot which confers full protection," says Khan.
The HPV Vaccine is important for young adults because it can protect against cervical and throat cancers.
It might seem like a small thing, but getting your family caught up on vaccinations can make a big difference in their health and well-being.
"Over the past several decades we’ve seen that routine vaccinations can safely prevent disease and death, things like measles, influenza, polio, whooping cough. Vaccines essentially train our immune system by producing antibodies to fight the pathogen and prevent infection," says Khan.
Here are some of the CDC's recommended vaccines to help you get caught up:
- COVID-19 - ages 16 and older
- Influenza - everyone
- Shingles - age 50 and older
- Pneumonia - age 65 and older
- Tetanus Diptheria (Tdap) Booster - everyone/every 10 years