Make a ‘check list’ for vaccinations

Published Apr 30, 2017 at 9:00am

Throughout life we need to obtain immunizations. We may need vaccines for work, for travel, because of a special health problem, or just to keep ourselves healthy.

This column discusses the four vaccines everyone should receive. Next month we will discuss vaccines needed for special situations.

It is very important to keep an immunization record at home. If you have a file drawer or a place in your home where you keep family records, have a folder labeled vaccinations.

You need one folder for every family member.

Sort through old records and put any appropriate information into the folders. 

If you check your vaccinations against the list below, you may find some are missing that you think you got.

Call your doctor, pharmacy, or the health department and see if they have a record. Ask them to send you a copy. 

All of the vaccines below are safe.

Following the guidelines provided by the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC), for the majority of people the benefits outweigh the risks.

In other words, getting a shot to protect you against shingles is better than getting the shingles. Most are inexpensive or covered by insurance.

Others are more costly.

The first vaccine is for Tetanus and Diphtheria (Td).

If you haven’t gotten a Tetanus shot for a long time, the next one should be Tdap, which includes protection against whooping cough. This helps protect young children you might be with. Then Td should be given every 10 years.

These are vaccines that protect against deadly diseases. There are no common contraindications for Td or Tdap.

Sometime people have a sore arm for a few days, but no other reactions are likely.

The second vaccine is Influenza (Flu). We should all get this vaccine every fall.

We realize that the effectiveness is variable and some people get flu anyway. If that is the case, the infection is usually milder.

Since the flu virus spreads easily, it is important that as many people as possible get the shot. Talk to your doctor if you are allergic to eggs.

The third vaccine is the shingles shot or Herpes Zoster Vaccine. This vaccine is given at the age of 60.

It may or may not be covered by insurance.

You should get the vaccine, even if you have had shingles. People who have severe forms of cancer should not get the shot.

Talk to you doctor about this and any other possible problems with the vaccine.

Lastly pneumococcal vaccine (pneumonia shot) is given twice.

Each is a slightly different vaccine. At or after the age of 65, we should get the first pneumonia shot (PCV13).

One year later we should get the second pneumonia shot (PPSV23.)

These vaccines protect against bacterial pneumonia, which is a common cause of severe illness and death in the elderly.

There are no common risks with these vaccines and no common after-effects. Some adults should get these shots before that age of 65. Discuss this with your doctor.

Do you need to repeat any of these vaccines? The flu shot is given every fall. Tetanus is given every 10 years.

At this time, there are no scheduled repeats for shingles shot or pneumonia shots. If you get pneumonia shots early, there may be a repeat.

Where can you get shots? We suggest you go to your own doctor, who will keep a record for you to use for future reference. Most of these shots are also given in pharmacies and that is certainly an appropriate place to receive immunizations.

The county Health Department is available for immunizations if needed.

It’s also available by phone or in person for advice on shots that are needed.

In Oneida County call 315-798-5748 or go to 406 Elizabeth St. in Utica. Shots are given only by appointment and there is a clinic in Rome and Utica.