It’s that time of year to think about getting children and adults vaccinated. Vaccines have prevented outbreaks of childhood diseases so well that most parents today have never seen the serious consequences of life-threatening infectious diseases.
Vaccines help the body’s immune system (a network of cells, tissues, and organs) prepare for future attacks of a particular disease such as diphtheria, whooping cough (pertussis), measles, mumps, pneumonia, or shingles.
There has been concern that the vaccines cause Autism Spectrum Disorder. Research has shown that there is NO link between vaccines and Autism Spectrum Disorder (see NOTE below).
For adults over 65, a pneumonia booster is strongly recommended. If you are 19 years or older and have certain health conditions, have a weakened immune system, or smoke cigarettes, you should talk to your healthcare provider about getting the pneumococcal vaccine.
It is also important to get the shingles vaccine, as your risk of getting shingles increases with age. Shingles causes a very painful, blistering skin rash and nerve pain. According to the National Institutes of Health, 1 of 3 people in the United States will develop shingles during their lifetime. Shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. After the patient recovers from chickenpox, the varicella zoster virus stays inactive in the body. For reasons not yet known, the virus can reactivate years later and cause shingles. The vaccine cuts your chances of getting shingles and, if you do get shingles, the vaccine lowers your chances of serious complications. Ask your healthcare provider if the vaccine is right for you.
Peace & Wellness,
—Carol Jones, Parish Nurse
NOTE. Thimerosal is a mercury-based preservative that has been used for decades in the United States in multi-dose vials of medicines and vaccines. There is no evidence of harm caused by the low doses of thimerosal in vaccines, except for minor reactions such as redness and swelling at the injection site. However, in July 1999, the Public Health Service agencies, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and vaccine manufacturers agreed that thimerosal should be reduced or eliminated in vaccines as a precautionary measure. Currently, the only childhood vaccines that contain thimerosal are flu vaccines packaged in multi-dose vials to safeguard against contamination of the vial. Single-dose or profiled-dose syringes do not contain thimerosal as they are intended to only be used once. Contact me if you have questions or concerns.