Shots can prevent infectious diseases like measles, diphtheria and rubella. Some vaccine-preventable diseases have become very rare thanks to vaccines. However, outbreaks still happen, and people in the U.S. still die from these and other vaccine-preventable diseases.
Making sure children stay up-to-date with vaccinations is the best way to ensure our communities and schools do not experience vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks with unnecessary illnesses and deaths. Children from birth through 6 years old are recommended to get vaccines to protect them from 14 diseases that can be serious, even life-threatening.
Everyone over age 6 months needs a seasonal flu shot every year.
"We recommend flu vaccines for kids in pre-school and elementary school to help keep them healthy," said Northwest Georgia Public Health Immunizations Coordinator Janet Eberhart. "In fact, all children 6 months and older should get flu vaccines. Having your children, as well as other family members and caregivers, vaccinated, will also help protect infants younger than 6 months. Ask your family's doctor or nurse about getting flu shots or the nasal spray to protect them against flu."
It is easy to forget that older children need vaccines, too. As children get older, they are more at risk for catching diseases, like meningococcal meningitis, so they, too, need the protection vaccines provide. Specific vaccines, like HPV, are recommended to be given during the preteen (11-12) years and teen (13-18) years. If children do not get these vaccines on time, they should catch up as soon as possible.
For other diseases, like whooping cough (pertussis), the protection from vaccine doses received in childhood wears off over time. That is why 11- and 12-year-olds are also recommended to get the booster shot called Tdap, which protects from Tetanus, diptheria and pertussis.
Other shots work best when they are given at certain ages. Here are some general guidelines:
* Children need a series of shots from birth to age 6.
* Pre-teens need recommended shots at age 11 or 12.
* All adults need a tetanus booster shot every 10 years.
Many people think that vaccinations are only for the young; however, thousands of older adults die or have serious complications each year from vaccine-preventable diseases. The CDC recommends that older adults get the vaccines that protect against shingles (Herpes Zoster), influenza and pneumococcal disease and that they receive a Tdap shot, as well.
Talk to your doctor or nurse to find out which immunizations you need. For more information, visit the Bartow County Health Department or call 770-382-1920 to make an appointment. For comprehensive information on vaccines, visit www.cdc.gov/vaccines.