Vaccinations are a hot topic right now: There’s rarely a day when the search for a COVID-19 vaccine isn’t dominating the news cycle.
This makes it all the more appropriate that August is National Immunization Awareness Month. While most Nevadans may not necessarily celebrate this commemorative month, it’s the ideal time to ensure everyone is current on the immunizations that are already developed and working hard to protect our health.
“We all have the power to protect ourselves and our families against serious diseases like the flu, whooping cough, cancers caused by HPV, flu and pneumonia through on-time vaccination,” said Immunize Nevada Executive Director Heidi Parker. “This becomes even more critical as we’re dealing with this global pandemic.”
Preparing to go back to school
As school begins, it’s critical that parents ensure their children are immunized before their return to classrooms — whether they’re going online or in-person. While all Nevada students must be fully vaccinated, there are specific requirements for students who are new to Nevada, or entering kindergarten, 7th grade or universities. Parents can visit https://immunizenevada.org/back2school for a complete list of vaccination requirements. Then they can access their immunization records for free at https://izrecord.nv.gov, or they can call their physicians and ask.
“Unfortunately, many regularly scheduled doctors’ visits were cancelled or postponed because of COVID-19, which means many children and babies are behind on their vaccines,” Parker explained. “This creates a health problem for them but also for the other people they’re around.”
Adults need protection too
Vaccines are not limited to students, as 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. All adults need immunizations to help them prevent getting and spreading serious diseases that could result in poor health, missed work, medical bills, and not being able to care for family. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) offers a quick online Adult Vaccine Assessment Tool that anyone can use to ascertain what vaccines they might need. After taking the assessment, Nevadans should reach out to their healthcare providers to make sure they get the vaccines that are right for them.
Arming ourselves against the flu
It’s also time to start thinking about getting a flu vaccination, which protects yourself, your loved ones and your community. The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older get the flu vaccine every year, as the flu is a contagious respiratory disease that can lead to serious illness, hospitalization, or even death. Flu vaccines have been given to millions of Americans for more than 50 years, and research shows that people who get the flu vaccine are less likely to get the flu, be hospitalized or even die from the flu. Flu vaccination also reduces the need to go to a doctor’s office, urgent care, or hospital, freeing up healthcare resources to care for COVID patients. Nevadans can also sign up for flu vaccine reminders/availability by texting ProtectNV to 47177 today.
“COVID complicates things, so we’re recommending people get their flu shots as soon as they’re available and no later than the end of October,” Parker says. “However, flu viruses will likely be circulating through the spring, so it’s never too late.”
While there isn’t currently a vaccine against COVID-19, the good news is that vaccines can protect us from other potentially fatal diseases. But they only work if they’re administered on time, every time.
For more information about Immunize Nevada and its mission to ensure that people across Nevada can access vaccines, healthcare, and other resources they need to stay healthy, visit www.immunizenevada.org.
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