by Mary Rains
Mille Lacs Health System
We all need shots (also called vaccinations or immunizations) to help protect us from serious diseases. To help keep our community safe, Mille Lacs Health System encourages patients to take an inventory of your whole family’s immunizations, making sure that children through adults are up to date with their vaccination schedules.
It’s National Immunization Awareness Month, and it’s a good time to remember that shots can prevent serious diseases like the flu, measles, and pneumonia. The recent outbreak of measles in the state of Minnesota should put people on alert that just because a disease or illness has been absent from the general population, does not mean that it’s alright to back down on needed vaccines.
For instance, measles can bring about severe complications, such as pneumonia (infection of the lungs) and encephalitis (swelling of the brain). Those people may need to be hospitalized and could die. As many as one out of every 20 children with measles gets pneumonia, the most common cause of death from measles in young children. If you are not immune to measles and catch the illness during pregnancy, you could risk having a miscarriage, stillbirth or pre-term (early) delivery. The measles virus is very easily spread in droplets from coughs and sneezes in the air, so an outbreak is hard for health officials to follow and contain.
It’s important to know which shots you need and when to get them. If you have a child age 6 or younger, find out which shots your child needs.
Shingles, pneumonia and meningitis are illnesses that can be dangerous for older adults, and there are vaccinations for these. A Tdap (tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis) vaccine is needed every ten years for adults.
Pre-teens need a Tdap vaccine at 11-12 years of age. Several other vaccines are recommended for teens, and it’s important to see which ones your medical provider thinks your teen needs to have.
If you are pregnant, talk with your provider about recommended vaccines. Make sure that everyone in your family gets the shots they need.