The COVID-19 pandemic has intensified discussions about vaccines of all kinds. Now that people of all ages are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, many questions have been asked about its effects, its interactions with other vaccines, and the need to get vaccinated. As flu season approaches and during this National Immunization Awareness Monthtake control of your health by understanding how vaccines work and the benefits they provide for your overall well-being.
Vaccines: how they work and types
Vaccines help boost the immune response of your body. Some vaccines, like the flu shot, contain small amounts of active or inactive virus or toxin that trigger an immune response in the body and help boost immunity. Others, like COVID-19 mRNA vaccinesdon’t introduce viruses into the body and instead teach your cells to create specific proteins that initiate an immune response against specific diseases.
Traditional and mRNA vaccines have been extensively studied and tested. The medical community is excited about advances in mRNA vaccines because they can be developed more quickly and pose no risk of causing disease in the vaccinated person because they do not contain live virus.
Should I get vaccinated and boosted against COVID-19?
Now that the pandemic has been going on for over two years and some aspects of life have returned to normal, many people are wondering if they still need to get vaccinated or vaccinated. The short answer: yes. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have approved the COVID-19 vaccine for everyone 6 months and older, and recommend at least one or two boosters depending on age and health status. It is important not only to get vaccinated to protect yourself against the COVID-19 virus, but also to be aware of recalls to ensure maximum protection.
Many common myths about the vaccine are circulating and it is important to consider public health professionals and reliable sources when deciding whether to get vaccinated. These professionals have years of experience and understand the research that goes into recommending and releasing a vaccine.
Influenza and other vaccines
Most people receive many vaccines in their lifetime. You probably received several vaccines as a child and continue to receive booster shots for certain vaccines at regular intervals, such as the tetanus booster, which is recommended every 10 years. Many routine vaccines can be given at the same time as other vaccines, and the flu shot is no different. You can safely receive the flu shot at the same time as your COVID-19 vaccination or booster. Talk to your doctor about which vaccines benefit you and when you should get them to ensure you are protected, especially as flu season approaches.
Help yourself and help others
A common misconception is that getting vaccinated isn’t as important if you’re generally healthy. The Covid-19 pandemic showed us that viruses can infect and seriously debilitate healthy people. One only has to think back to the severe illness that occurred at the start of the pandemic to see what a difference vaccines have made in reducing hospitalizations and preventing deaths.
Whether your primary concern is your own health or that of those around you, immunization plays a critical role in keeping our communities healthy, during a pandemic and beyond. During National Immunization Awareness Month, take the time to see your doctor and make sure you’re up to date on your recommended vaccinations to protect yourself and your loved ones.
Dr. Kurt Merkelz is Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of Compassone of the nation’s leading providers of home care services, including Indianapolis, Muncie and Kokomo.