In today’s world, there are endless pieces of health information available to us. You could spend hours researching what foods are good for brain health, what exercises are the most beneficial, or which vitamins you should be taking. While this information can be very useful, it can also become overwhelming at times. The flood of resources can sometimes make finding the most important information seem impossible.

One health topic of interest that is often overshadowed by trendier topics is the importance of immunization. While this may not be the most exciting or glamorous thing to research, the information behind immunization can work to protect you and your world. In light of August being National Immunization Awareness Month, it is important to get a refresher on the most important details of vaccinations. By understanding what immunizations are and which ones you need to pay attention to, you’ll be on the right track to protecting your health.

So, what exactly are immunizations and why should you be knowledgeable about them? Immunization, or vaccination, is the process of introducing a vaccine into the body to produce protection from a disease. This process is usually done through a shot, however, some vaccinations have nasal spray forms available. Vaccinations are preventative measures against serious diseases and are often the first line of defense in your health journey.

While getting immunized against diseases is very beneficial to you, it can also be vital in protecting your community, country, and the world. In fact, widespread vaccination of things like measles, polio, and the flu have saved millions of lives worldwide and have increased life expectancy in a number of countries. By getting vaccinated you are contributing to something known as herd immunity – this indirect protection occurs when a sufficient percentage of individuals are immune to an infection (typically due to vaccination) and thereby dramatically reduce the likelihood of infection for anyone in the group. By getting the correct vaccinations, you can contribute to herd immunity in your community.

In order to get the most out of your immunizations it is important to understand which vaccines you should be getting, what they are protecting against, and when you need to get them. To keep things simple, recommended vaccinations can be split into two main categories: annual vaccines and one-time or occasional vaccines.

The major annual vaccine that the CDC recommends for all individuals is the flu vaccine. Because the prominent strand of influenza changes from year to year, it is important to stay up-to-date on this vaccine to prevent this illness. Much like the flu vaccine, many doctors believe that getting the COVID-19 vaccine will soon become an annual event. As we know, getting this vaccine can be crucial when it comes to stopping the spread of COVID and lowering your risk of any serious complications.

Besides your annual flu shot (and possibly an annual COVID shot), there are a number of immunizations that adults 50 years and older should make sure they have. The first vaccination is a regular shot known as Tdap or Td. This shot is administered roughly every 10 years and is important for fighting off diseases such as tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis. Similarly, doctors recommend that healthy adults over the age of 50 receive the shingles vaccine. Shingles is increasingly popular among older adults, and getting this vaccine can be your first line of defense against the disease and any complications that accompany it.

When it comes to adults over the age of 65, both the CDC and numerous doctors recommend getting the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV15). This protects against both pneumonia and serious pneumococcal disease. As many of us know, pneumonia becomes much more risky for older adults. Getting this particular vaccine can act as a strong preventative measure against pneumonia and pneumococcal disease and can help ease any anxieties about this.

All in all, knowing about immunizations is essential in leading a healthy life. While there is a lot of information out there, being aware of the benefits and necessity of some vaccinations is the first step. If you ever have questions about your immunization path, make sure to check out some of the below sources or contact your health provider for more information!


This content is free for use with credit to the City of Madison - Madison Senior Center and a link back to the original post.