Protect yourself and loved ones by updating your vaccines
8/3/2020 by Robert M. Jacobson, MD
August is annually observed as National Immunization Month which usually serves as a reminder to make vaccination appointments before school begins in the fall.
As a result of the COVID-19 epidemic however, it is undecided whether children will be studying in classrooms together next month. Our daily routines have changed as well; we are now wearing masks, practicing social distancing, monitoring hand hygiene, and reducing local and distance travel. Many people are also avoiding routine medical care as a result of the pandemic, leaving immunizations out of date.
While it is important to do whatever is possible to stop COVID-19 from spreading, we should still maintain our preventive medical care — including routine immunizations — because we are still at risk for many diseases preventable by vaccines.
A recent study showed half of the children who present with COVID-19 have a second infection with a respiratory illness. Cases of vaccine-preventable diseases, such as influenza, pertussis, and measles, may also be confused with COVID-19. The risk of lockjaw (tetanus) and environmental exposure to hepatitis B are just as likely to present themselves during outdoor recreation in a community that is practicing social distancing and masking as in prior years.
- Children starting kindergarten need preschool vaccinations, including the combination diphtheria-tetanus-acellular pertussis-polio vaccine (DTaP-IPV) and the combination measles-mumps-rubella-varicella vaccine (MMRV).
- Nine-year-olds should start their human papillomavirus vaccine (HPV). Doing so takes advantage of youthfully vigorous immunity, allowing them to get only two doses rather than three if they wait until they are older.
- Eleven and twelve-year-olds need their adolescent/adult tetanus-diphtheria-acellular pertussis vaccine (DTaP) and the first dose of meningococcal ACWY vaccine (MenACWY-D).
- Sixteen-year-olds should get their second dose of meningococcal ACWY vaccine (MenACWY-D) as the protection from their first dose starts waning.
- Adults age fifty should get their two-dose recombinant shingles vaccine (RZV) series as soon as possible.
Taking charge of your preventive health care by scheduling immunizations will help you avoid unnecessary risks for you and your family. Check with your care team this month to make sure you, and your family, are up-to-date with all recommended immunizations, and remember to get the influenza vaccine when it becomes available this fall.
Dr. Robert M. Jacobson is a pediatrician in Primary Care in Rochester and Kasson's Division of Community Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine (CPAM) and medical directory of the Primary Care in Southeast Minnesota Immunization Program.