Vaccines protect against many potentially harmful diseases
Immunizations are one of the best ways parents can protect their children – regardless of age – from 16 potentially harmful diseases.
Galveston County Health District (GCHD) recognizes National Immunization Month as a chance to highlight the importance of immunizations for all ages.
Vaccine-preventable diseases can often be extremely serious, especially in infants and young children.
“It may be hard to believe, but the back-to-school season is here once again. We often first think of pencils, notebooks and other classroom supplies, but parents need to be sure their children have their most important supply – protection against vaccine-preventable diseases,” said Eileen Dawley, RN, GCHD chief nursing officer.
Vaccines are the best way for parents to protect their children from many potentially life-threatening diseases such as measles, whooping cough, chickenpox and some cancers. Parents should follow the recommended immunization schedule for their child.
“Whether you have a baby starting a new child care facility, a toddler headed to preschool or a child going back to school or even college, you need to check their vaccination records,” Dawley said. “Illnesses are easily spread from one child to another in schools when students may not properly wash their hands or cover their coughs and sneezes.”
Although the overall immunization rate in Texas is on par with the national average, there is room for improvement, specifically when it comes to the HPV vaccine. The virus is a common infection in both men and women and can lead to certain cancers.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates nearly 80 million people – that’s one in four – have HPV.
“Each year about 14 million people, including teens, are infected with the virus,” Dawley said. “Odds are your child will eventually encounter it. Every year in the United States, HPV causes 30,700 cancers in men and women. HPV vaccination can prevent most of the cancers – about 28,000 – from occurring.”
CDC recommends all children who are 11 or 12 years old get two shots of HPV vaccine six months apart. Adolescents who receive their two shots less than five months apart will require a third dose. The vaccine is recommended through age 26. Teen boys and girls who did not start or finish the HPV vaccine series when they were younger should get it now.
Parents should check with their child’s doctor, school or the local health department to learn about vaccine requirements.
Vaccines aren’t just limited to children. Even healthy adults may become ill and pass diseases on to others.
“All adults should get an influenza vaccine each year to protect against the seasonal flu,” Dawley said. “Some people are at high risk, like adults 65 years old and older, children younger than 5, pregnant women and those with long-term medical conditions like asthma, heart disease and diabetes.”
Women should be up to date on their vaccines before becoming pregnant. Pregnant women should get the pertussis vaccine, commonly called whopping cough, during their pregnancy. They also need to get the flu vaccine.
“When mothers get vaccinated during pregnancy, they pass some protection on to their baby,” Dawley said. “Some women may need to receive certain vaccines after giving birth. And, some vaccines need to be given before a woman becomes pregnant, like measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine.”
The GCHD immunization clinic offers a variety of vaccines for children and adults. The clinic accepts Children’s Medicaid, Blue Cross Blue Shield, cash, check, credit and debit. Discounts are available for eligible patients.
There is no need for an appointment, just walk on in. The clinic is open Monday through Friday 8 a.m.-5 p.m. with hours extended until 7 p.m. on Tuesdays and located at 9850-B Emmett F. Lowry Parkway in Texas City. Learn more at www.gchd.org/imm or by calling 409-938-2244.