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Vaccinations: From childhood to adulthood

We often associate immunizations with children, but the truth is, they are important at different stages of our lives. Getting vaccinations based on your age, as well as the annual flu shot, are important to staying healthy and strong. This is especially important during uncertain times like these.

Kali Paine, a health promotion and quality improvement specialist in Moda's Population Health Department, said her team raises awareness about the importance of vaccinations and how vaccines can help protect people against preventable diseases. Throughout the year, her team is busy providing Moda Health members vaccination information and schedules based on their age. Moda's Member Health Advocates also reach out to members to follow up on vaccine recommendations.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has developed an immunization schedule for children from birth to adolescents and young adults to the elderly. Following this schedule can help a person prevent diseases and related health conditions, as well as protect others within the community from serious illnesses.

"While there's a lot of information out there, we keep it simple by educating people about how vaccination is the safest and most effective way to prevent diseases," she said. "Plus, it costs less than treating the disease. Immunization is really the best and lowest-cost option for keeping yourself healthy."

Getting started early

Childhood vaccinations can help set the tone for a lifelong practice. Moda Health Senior Clinical Program Manager for Clinical Pharmacy, Katie Scheelar, said it also benefits others.

"There's a danger in not visiting your pediatrician to get your child's wellness vaccines in alignment with CDC recommendations," she said. "Staying on schedule can keep your child healthy, and it helps build a herd immunity that protects others, too."

While it's important to start vaccinations early, Kali said it is important for people to understand that vaccinations don't stop with adolescents. They include adult immunizations to protect people at all ages. While many efforts focus on childhood vaccines, there's a good reason for this. She said getting parents on board early is important for creating a lifelong practice for vaccination.

"One of the reasons there's so much focus on childhood vaccinations is if you can get someone to start vaccinating early, they'll continue that behavior their whole life," she said. "We want to provide parents information about why vaccines are important in hopes that they will start and continue that behavior."

Paine shared several things people should consider when thinking about vaccinations. They include:

  1. Vaccines are safe and effective. The CDC, American Academy of Pediatrics, and Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices vaccine recommendations are safe and effective, especially when received on schedule.
  2. Best form of preventive care. Vaccinations are one of the easiest and cheapest forms of preventive care. Getting recommended vaccines on schedule costs a fraction of what it would cost to treat a vaccine-preventable illness.
  3. Positive community impact. Vaccinations can also have a positive economic impact. Illness outbreaks can close local businesses, cost money to contain and treat, and cause sick people to miss work and school.
  4. Education is just one form of awareness. Educating people on vaccine safety and effectiveness is important, but not always the best approach. Many people react to vaccines emotionally rather than logically, so empathy and patience are also important when talking to vaccine-hesitant people.
  5. Freedom of choice should include public safety. Many people talk about the decision to vaccinate as an issue of personal rights or freedoms. While everyone has the right to decide against vaccinating themselves or their children, the rest of the world also has the right to feel safe and healthy in public spaces.

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