HCN News & Notes

Immunizations Protect Health of Both Children and Adults

WEST SPRINGFIELD — Massachusetts has some of the highest childhood immunization rates in the country. In fact, the state Department of Health and Human Services “Childcare/Preschool Immunization Results by County” report for 2015-16 shows that more than 95{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} of young children in Hampden and Hampshire counties have received the necessary vaccinations.

However, ongoing awareness and understanding of the importance of vaccinations — for both children and adults — is essential for a healthy community. AFC Urgent Care has been using August, National Immunization Awareness Month, to help spread this message.

“We all need shots — also called immunizations and vaccinations — to help protect us from serious diseases,” said Dr. Vincent Meoli, regional medical director of AFC Urgent Care, the largest urgent-care provider in the Commonwealth. “This is true for people of all ages. For adults, vaccinations can prevent serious diseases like the flu, shingles, and pneumonia. It’s important to know what shots you need and when to get them.”

Many adults incorrectly assume that, if they had all their immunizations as babies and children, they don’t need any as adults. Meoli said that is one reason why immunization awareness is so important. “Adults should have tetanus boosters every 10 years. Travelers to foreign countries often require a range of vaccinations. Adults over age 60 should be immunized for shingles, and over age 65 for pneumonia.”

He added that almost everyone age 6 months and older needs to get a flu vaccine every year. “Other shots work best when they are given at certain ages. The Centers for Disease Control website offers immunization schedules for children, teenagers, adults, pregnant women, and other specific groups of people, like healthcare providers and travelers. Or talk to your health provider to make sure that everyone in your family gets the shots they need.”

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