Get Healthy Carson City: Community immunity: Protect yourself, protect us all
Carson City Health and Human Services
This column appears in the Nevada Appeal Wednesday health pages. It addresses topics related to the health of our community.
August is National Immunization Awareness Month, and Carson City Health and Human Services is partnering with the Centers for Disease Control to help make people aware of the importance of vaccines, and to provide immunizations to people in our community. Although many think immunizations are only for children, people of all ages need vaccines throughout our lives to help prevent illness. Vaccines are recommended for children, teens, and adults based on different factors like age, health conditions, lifestyle, jobs and travel.
Choosing to vaccinate protects those around us — this is called “herd” or “community” immunity. Community immunity happens when the majority of the community is immunized, which inhibits outbreaks and limits the spread of vaccine-preventable diseases. Community immunity helps protect people who can’t be vaccinated and people who have weak immune systems — babies who are too young to receive vaccines, individuals who have medical conditions that prevent them from being vaccinated or those suffering from illnesses like cancer or organ transplants who have suppressed immune systems. It’s important people who can receive vaccines do receive vaccines. Protecting yourself protects us all from outbreaks of disease.
Many childhood vaccinations lose their effectiveness over time, and adults may not be aware they need to receive a booster to maintain their own immunity and to protect others. This is especially true of the Tdap vaccine, which protects against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough). Whooping cough has been making a resurgence, and if you’re around babies who are too young to receive the vaccine themselves, your vaccine may be all the protection they have. Community immunity means it’s up to adults who work with babies to receive vaccines that help keep babies safe.
Although we’re working hard this month to ensure children in Carson City have all the required vaccinations to start school, Carson City Health and Human Services wants to get the message out immunizations are for adults, too, and many of the recommended adult vaccinations are available every Thursday in our clinic on a walk-in basis.
One vaccine that’s recommended for nearly everyone, adults and children alike, is the seasonal flu vaccine. This year’s flu vaccine will soon be available in our clinic.
Vaccines are an important public health tool to prevent the spread of disease. Before vaccines, many people became sick and died from illnesses that are rare today, thanks to vaccines. If you aren’t sure which vaccinations are right for you, ask your healthcare provider or visit our clinic and speak to a nurse.
For more information on adult vaccines, visit http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines. To learn more about our clinic and other health department services, check us out on the web at http://www.gethealthycarsoncity.org or “like” our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/cchhs.