Timely immunizations for people of all ages play a key role in community health

Mankato Times

MANKATO, MINN. — Immunization gives people of all ages a proven method of protection against numerous diseases throughout their lives.

August is National Immunization Awareness Month, and Mayo Clinic Health System is taking the opportunity to remind people of all ages about the importance timely immunizations play throughout our entire lives.

“People who are not vaccinated are at an increased risk and can spread diseases to others in their family and community,” says Jessica Sheehy, infectious diseases physician assistant at Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato. “It’s especially important to protect babies who are too young to be fully vaccinated and people with weakened immune systems, such as older adults or people with medical conditions.”

During the early years in a child’s life, up to 15 separate vaccines play a critical role in protecting against serious and potentially life-threatening diseases.

Common vaccines recommended for children from birth to 15 months include, but are not limited to the following diseases:

    • Polio
    • Measles
    • Whooping cough
    • Chicken Pox

As kids age, additional immunizations are also needed. Once they enter the preteen and teenage years, immunizations for Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis or whooping cough), meningococcal conjugate and HPV (human papillomavirus) are recommended.

Many of the same diseases protected against during our youth are still important for adults to guard against.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC), every year, tens of thousands of adults in the United States suffer serious health problems, are hospitalized or even die from diseases that could have been prevented by vaccination. 

“People often question side effects of vaccinations,” says Sheehy. “A common mistruth is vaccinations cause autism. There is no link to autism. The study that originally made this claim has since been refuted by the journal in which it was originally published, as well as numerous other peer-reviewed, scientific journals.”

Sheehy says common side effects for most immunizations are minor in almost all cases and can include low-grade fever, fussiness, headache, fatigue, loss of appetite and soreness at the injection site.

“Many of these vaccinations can be administered in groups, and there are also catch-up schedules available,” says Sheehy. “Certain individuals shouldn’t receive vaccines, so make sure to speak with your health care provider. The risks of serious side effects are miniscule in comparison to the danger of not getting you or your child vaccinated.”

Ask your local health care provider about any questions you may have concerning immunizations for you and your family.

Mayo Clinic Health System consists of clinics, hospitals and other health care facilities that serve the health care needs of people in more than 60 communities in Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin. The community-based providers, paired with the resources and expertise of Mayo Clinic, enable patients in the region to receive the highest-quality health care close to home.


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