Today's Medicine

4 Reasons You Should Get Vaccinated

Vaccines are an important step in protecting us all against serious and sometimes deadly diseases. 

August is Immunization Awareness Month

When it comes to vaccines, it’s simply a matter of protecting your health. That’s why I’m a proud member of the Immunization Task Force – Metro Omaha, a non-profit coalition dedicated to educating the public and health care providers about immunizations. 

Recently, members of the task force and I were honored to travel to the Nebraska State Capitol as Gov. Pete Ricketts proclaimed August as Immunization Awareness Month.

This month – or any month – I urge you to talk with your health care provider to learn what vaccines you should get.  

Recommendations based on science

Vaccines are recommended throughout our lives. Specific recommendations are based on age, lifestyle, occupation, travel destinations, medical conditions and vaccines received in the past. 

For adults, vaccines are recommended to prevent serious diseases such as influenza (flu), shingles, pneumonia, hepatitis and whooping cough (pertussis).

Vaccine recommendations for adults change often based on the latest scientific information, and input from the top medical provider organizations across the country. That’s why it’s important to touch base with an annual visit to your Methodist Physicians Clinic health care provider.

The importance of vaccines

Every year, thousands of adults in the U.S. become needlessly ill from infectious diseases. Many adults are hospitalized and some even die from diseases that could be prevented by vaccines. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that:

  • Flu is responsible for up to 35.6 million illnesses and 56,000 deaths each year.
  • About 900,000 people get pneumococcal pneumonia every year, leading to as many as 400,000 hospitalizations and 28,000 deaths.
  • About 10 to 13 percent of people who get shingles will experience a painful complication called post herpetic neuralgia (PHN). This pain can last from weeks to years.
  • As many as 2.2 million people suffer from chronic hepatitis B, with complications such as liver cancer.
  • HPV causes about 19,700 cases of cancer in women and about 12,800 cases of cancer in men annually. About 4,000 women die each year from cervical cancer.

Protecting yourself… and others

Immunizations are about more than just protecting yourself from diseases and complications. They’re also about protecting others. Unfortunately, according to the CDC, nearly a third of adults don’t get the vaccinations they need.

Here are four good reasons you should get vaccinated:

  1. Keeping your loved ones healthy. Most diseases preventable by vaccines are also highly contagious. If you become sick, that puts your loved ones at risk as well.
  2. Sick days away from work and family. Getting sick could mean missing precious days earning a paycheck and providing for your family. You could also miss out on important family time. Vaccines can help you stay healthy so you have less chance of missing work or precious moments due to illness.
  3. Peace of mind. Are you someone who waits to get vaccinated until you hear news of an outbreak? The time to get vaccinated is before disease arrives. Stay up-to-date on your immunizations because no one knows when the next outbreak will happen.
  4. Feeling healthy. No one wants to get sick, so why risk it? There are more than a dozen diseases you can protect yourself against simply by getting vaccinated.

Susanne Shore, BSN, first lady of Nebraska, discussed the importance of immunizations across the lifespan for members of all Nebraska families in an interview with Carol Wang of the Metro Omaha Medical Society. Watch the interview sponsored by the Immunization Task Force - Metro Omaha by clicking here.

About the Author

Dr. Rudolf Kotula is a board-certified infectious disease physician. He specializes in areas such as antibiotic resistance, travel medicine and infection prevention.

You can visit Dr. Kotula at Methodist Physicians Clinic.

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