Summer vacation often gives students of all ages a break from homework and classes. But, for healthcare professionals, summer appointments present an opportunity to educate young patients and parents about their recommended vaccine schedule. Providers can help patients catch up on their vaccines before they return to school to fulfill state-mandated immunization requirements and to protect patients and their fellow students from vaccine-preventable diseases.
Vulnerable populations—children, seniors and homeless—are at higher risk of contracting many preventable diseases. With immunity developing, declining, or at risk, these groups are more likely to suffer from illnesses that can be prevented with vaccines. Health providers and vaccine advocates can help protect vulnerable populations by promoting vaccines to all populations and delivering vaccines to those who need it most.
Each year, vaccines save more lives than seat belts.
In 2015, The Immunization Partnership reported on the yearly impact of vaccinations. The report’s juxtaposition of seatbelts and vaccinations, both used for preventing injury, illness and death, serves as a reminder that a view of vaccinations through the lens of preventive healthcare can be a helpful and healthful perspective.
During pregnancy, there are many preparations that expectant mothers may make before welcoming a newborn: purchasing a stroller, preparing a nursery, buying clothes, diapers, wipes and many other items. Another way expectant mothers can prepare, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is vaccinating themselves against diseases, namely influenza and pertussis.
While we know flu shots are the best form of protection from the virus, medical research has also shown that the vaccine guards against additional medical illnesses particularly for those with chronic health conditions.
More than a decade has passed since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) first recommended immunization against human papillomavirus (HPV), and yet despite significant promotion and awareness efforts, completion of the multi-dose series lags compared with other CDC-recommended vaccines.
In the past few months, San Diego has seen a spike in the number of hepatitis A cases; the San Diego County Board of Supervisors puts the latest count at 516 cases, including 357 hospitalizations and 19 deaths. Vaccines, in fulfilling their original purpose, are preventative health tools meant to impede the potential for outbreaks of disease. Yet, outbreaks do occasionally occur and expose a large number of uninfected individuals who may not be immunized against diseases that are normally vaccine-preventable.
When it comes to keeping up with vaccinations, “booster” doses—doses administered after a completed series for added protection—are sometimes skipped. The CDC recommends that after age 19, adults should receive a Tdap booster dose every 10 years, yet only one out of every five adults receives a Tdap booster.
“You’re going to catch pneumonia.” We’ve all heard the phrase – and maybe even had it directed at us. But, providers know it is not that easy to “catch” pneumonia. In reality, people catch the bacteria, viruses or fungi that can eventually cause pneumonia. With this often-misunderstood illness, providers have an opportunity to educate patients about the severity of pneumonia and help them determine the immunization recommendations that are right for them.
In early 2017, nearly 900 children in Ocean County, New Jersey faced possible revaccination when state health officials discovered that a pediatrician administered mumps, measles, chicken pox and other vaccines that had been improperly stored. The New Jersey example gives a glimpse into an important question among practices and clinics: how best to store vaccines.
When presented with a patient or a parent that is concerned about the use of vaccines, clinicians have many choices about what to do. One approach worthy of consideration is educating patients on the vaccine approval process that has led to what the CDC reports as the safest vaccine supply in U.S. history.
A number of recent articles and studies have looked at effective approaches for keeping patients on track with their immunizations and increasing overall uptake. In addition to being effective strategies, they are also feasible for providers to deploy.
While numerous studies have demonstrated its efficacy, HPV vaccination rates remain lower than other vaccinations recommended for the same age group, teens and pre-teens. Providers have an opportunity to consider how they communicate and deliver HPV vaccines to increase inoculation rates for teens.
As the father of modern medicine, Hippocrates, said, “Declare the past, diagnose the present, foretell the future.” Medicine is ever-evolving, and this is especially true as it relates to vaccines. Vaccination research continues to advance the effectiveness of current vaccines and address new threatening viruses.
From prominent higher education institutions to popular sports teams, mumps have been in the spotlight. 2016 has seen more mumps outbreaks than any other year in the past decade. Reported cases are nearly tripled from 2015, according to the CDC.