Flu shots: good idea for all | Guest Column

By Susan Leff, Personal health services manager, SJC Health Department

Healthy infants and toddlers need flu shots as well.

San Juan County Health Department reports only 23 percent of the youngest and most vulnerable residents in our county have immunizations that are up to date. This group of young people do not have fully developed immune systems.

While some of the diseases that immunizations protect against have been eradicated, many are still present in our very mobile communities. Polio was eradicated from the Western hemisphere but still is epidemic in Afghanistan. Our troops could easily re-introduce polio into our communities and, because of our low immunization rates, provide a foothold to bring back polio.

Measles and pertussis are good examples of vaccine-preventable diseases that have resurged due to low immunization rates.

Vaccine work by preventing diseases before a child is exposed, thus decreasing their chances of needing to be hospitalized, dying, overuse of antibiotics or antivirals, or passing their illness on to others, like the elderly or people with chronic illnesses.

Vaccines help build immunity by imitating an infection, but this “imitation” infection does not cause illness. It does, however, cause the immune system to develop the same response as it does to a real infection so that the body can recognize and fight the vaccine-preventable disease in the future.

Sometime after getting a vaccine, an imitation infection can cause minor symptoms, such as a fever. Such minor symptoms are normal and should be expected as the body builds immunity. Vaccines are safe and effective.

Review your child’s immunizations with a health care provider to understand the benefits and risks of the immunization your child might be missing. Immunizations can save your family time and money due to prolonged illnesses from the complications, like pneumonia, and time away from work.

Young children rely on the “champions” in their lives to keep them safe and healthy. These champions may be parents checking in with their healthcare provider about whether their child is up to date on immunizations.

All families want to do what is best for their children. We protect them by wearing seat belts and using car seats. Another important way to protect our children is to immunize them completely and on time. Influenza and other children’s vaccines are available at all healthcare provider offices in San Juan County.

For more information, contact your healthcare provider, or San Juan County Health Department, 378-4474.


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