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Building Back Vaccine Confidence

There has been a lot of talk about vaccines, specifically, the COVID-19 vaccine and boosters. While it’s recommended for everyone over the age of five who can get the vaccine to do so, don’t lose focus on other vaccines that are essential to protect yourself and others around you.

The disruption that the pandemic has caused in the world and healthcare means many people haven’t seen their primary care provider in years. Getting back to your primary care provider and setting up that first appointment is the priority. You may have missed out on an important health milestone if you did not see your provider, meaning your vaccines might be lapsed. It doesn’t matter what has stopped you from getting vaccinated, maybe you haven’t wanted to come into the clinic during the pandemic, or you simply haven’t realized how much time has passed!

While it is encouraged for everyone who can get the COVID-19 vaccine, don’t forget to stay up-to-date on your other necessary vaccines for yourself and your school-aged children. A few common vaccines are listed below, but if you’re questioning your need for a specific vaccine, give your provider a call and ask! They will be happy to walk you through what’s missing from your immunization records or what needs to be updated.

Flu. The most significant benefit of getting the seasonal flu shot is reducing the severity of symptoms and the risk of hospitalization. According to the CDC, influenza vaccines prevent millions of illnesses and flu-related doctor visits every year. It’s been reported that the flu vaccine has reduced the number of doctor visits with severe conditions by 40-60%. That is a huge factor for both you, your healthcare spending, and the hospitals treating people with the flu. It is still possible to get the flu after getting the flu vaccine, but your severity is likely to be much lower. Despite the many benefits of the flu vaccination, only about half of Americans get an annual flu vaccine.

Tetanus. Suppose you’re not up to date on your tetanus shot or don’t know when the last time you got it. If that is the case, it’s highly recommended to check in with your provider, especially if you work in farming, construction, landscaping, or anything similar where you are at a higher risk of contracting tetanus. You typically only need to get the tetanus vaccine every ten years, so it’s easy to forget when you last got your dose. That’s why it’s essential to meet regularly with your provider so they can review your immunization records with you. Today, tetanus is uncommon in the United States, with an average of 30 reported cases each year. Nearly all cases of tetanus today are in people who never got a tetanus vaccine, did not receive a complete course of tetanus vaccines or adults who didn’t stay up to date on their 10-year booster shots.

Meningitis. While anyone can get meningitis, the CDC found that most cases were found in teens and young adults between the ages of 18 to 20. The effects of meningitis can be severe, with up to 1 in 5 survivors experiencing long-term consequences, including hearing loss, skin scarring, neurological problems, or limb loss. While the effects can be scary, the first step to protecting your children or yourself is to have both meningitis vaccines. When planning your back-to-school activities, like supply shopping and sports physicals, add getting the meningitis vaccine to your list.

If you haven’t been to the doctor since the pandemic started two years ago, and now you think too much time has passed to catch up, it’s not too late!

Vaccines are an essential part of overall well-being, strengthening the immune system’s response to lower the effect of serious diseases and complications that come with it. If you’ve been putting off care and don’t know how much time has passed since your last vaccine, or maybe you’re questioning your need for a specific vaccine, or don’t know if you’re behind on your immunizations, give your primary care provider at Southwest Health a call! They can help you take the first step towards getting back to better health. Recommendations and needs vary by age, from well-child vaccines for children, meningitis vaccines for college students, or the shingles vaccine for adults over fifty. Your provider will have specific recommendations for you.

Southwest Health is creating a healthier southwest Wisconsin, which includes protecting our community by encouraging everyone who can get vaccinated to do so.

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