Though the Centers for Disease Control has not designated it as such, the month of August by many is observed as national immunization month. August is a good time to make sure adults are up to date on their vaccinations, including tetanus shots.
This practice helps contribute to community immunity making Fairfield County a safer, better place for all its residents.
According to Jim Beasley with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, “Immunizations (or vaccines/shots) aren’t just for babies and young kids; they are important throughout the lifespan. Vaccine-preventable diseases still cause serious illness and even death worldwide.”
Some persons are hesitant to undergo that needle stick, but vaccines are nothing to fear.
“Vaccines are safer now than they have been in decades and there is no reason not to get vaccinated and stay healthy,” said Fairfield Memorial Hospital Dr. Jeremy Crisp.
By now, school has begun so students have received their necessary inoculations, however children getting ready for day care also must have a specific round of immunizations.
According to Crisp, children receive immunizations for 11 diseases before starting school. Some additional immunizations that are recommended but not required.
Preschoolers are vaccinated against types of the Haemophilus Bacteria that are known to cause ear infections, pneumonia, and meningitis in very small children.
Preschool age children also receive vaccines against common strands of bacteria that cause pneumonia. The nine other immunizations required by schools include: Tetanus, Diphtheria, and Pertussis (Whooping Cough), which are grouped into a DTaP shot; Polio; Rubeola (Measles), Mumps, and Rubella (German Measles) are grouped into the MMR shot; Hepatitis B, and Varicella (Chicken Pox). Most children are fully vaccinated against these diseases by the time they are 5 years old.
As these children grow, there are other vaccinations considered important for teens and pre-teens.
Pre-teens need vaccines at age 11 or 12 to help protect them from tetanus/ diphtheria/ pertussis (whooping cough) (Tdap), meningitis (MCV) and human papillomavirus (HPV).
“Parents should know that starting with the 2013-2014 school year, South Carolina will require a DTaP booster by seventh grade. That is just one reason why the adolescent well visit is so important,” Crisp said. Teens also need a meningitis booster at age 16.
Adults can not only help by taking their children to receive vaccinations but they can set a good example themselves.
In addition to a booster every ten years to protect against tetanus and diphtheria (Td), all adults also need one dose of tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (Tdap).
Tdap protects not only the adult but also helps to stop the spread of whooping cough to young children.
“We have heard a lot about Whooping Cough in the news lately (including an outbreak South Carolina was included in). It is thought that adults actually carry the bacteria and pass it to young children and babies,” Crisp said. “If you are due for a tetanus shot but have not had an adult booster for the Whooping Cough, ask your physician to give you the immunization that includes both.”
He said that is especially important for adults who work with babies or care for young children to receive those shots.
DHEC advises that persons talk to their health care providers about which vaccines they and their family may need especially if you will be travelling internationally or if you have an ongoing medical condition.
People age 65 and older need a one-time pneumonia vaccine. The pneumonia vaccine can also help persons with lung diseases such as asthma or emphysema.
Patients with diabetes and kidney disease also should receive the pneumonia shot since their susceptibility to those illnesses is higher.
People age 60 and older need a one time vaccination to protect against shingles (zoster).
For flu shots, patients can go to their local primary care provider or any number of flu clinics in the area.
Other immunizations can be given at your doctor’s office or at the health department.
Crisp advises patients to call before they go because there are some insurance requirements that they may want ask about before showing up.
He said rolling up their sleeves and pitching in to community immunity is something all residents of the area can do to improve quality of life in Fairfield County.