The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) identifies immunizations as a primary method of preventing disease.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) backs up this assertion with the claim vaccinations can prevent over 730,000 deaths and 21 million hospitalizations among kids born in the previous 20 years alone. The CDC also calculates $10.20 in direct medical savings for each $1 spent on vaccines. Do not let copays dissuade you from getting the vaccinations you need. Many of the most important immunizations can be obtained for free, such as through your insurance company, nonprofit agencies, schools, employers and government programs.
For best results, medical experts recommend getting your immunizations on the recommended schedule. There are also listed catch-up periods during which you can receive each immunization later than recommended and still have it be effective. In addition to the vaccines described below as recommended for most everyone, there are other vaccines you may require depending on factors like your health condition, age, lifestyle, job and travel habits.
Preventive health care for children is especially important. Every year, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) sets out the immunization schedule for adolescents and children between birth and 18 years of age. Included in this schedule are recommended vaccinations and the ages at which those vaccinations should be administered. The influenza virus immunization, in particular, should first be taken annually from six months of age and onward. Before six years of age, a child may get one or two doses of the influenza immunization each year, whereas only one per year is necessary after that age.
The diphtheria, tetanus and acellular pertussis (DTaP) vaccine is one of the other most important immunizations for children, protecting against, among other illnesses, whooping cough. Whooping cough is responsible for killing as many as 20 babies in the U.S. each year. To protect your baby from this fate, give him or her a first dose of the DTaP vaccine at two months of age. Then, give the second dose at four months of age, the third dose at six months of age, the fourth dose between 15 and 18 months of age and the fifth and final dose between four and six years of age. As for the other most highly recommended immunizations for infants and children from birth through 18 years of age, the schedule is as follows:
In addition, a variant of the tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis immunization is recommended for adolescents between 11 and 12 years of age. Adolescents are also recommended to get the human papillomavirus (HPV) immunization no sooner than nine years of age and no later than 15 years of age. If a child or adolescent is immunocompromised or has HIV, then he or she should not be given the measles, mumps or rubella vaccine, the varicella vaccine or the rotavirus vaccine.
Certain populations require special considerations regarding immunizations including adults with asplenia, immunocompromised individuals and pregnant women. The following is the recommended immunization scheduling for most adult men and women 19 years of age or older:
Certain additional adult immunizations are only recommended for people with certain health conditions or indicators, including hepatitis, meningitis and haemophilus influenza. In addition, certain health conditions may alter the optimal scheduling for particular immunizations, including the following:
Preventive care for women and immunizations do not just protect you while you are pregnant, but they help to protect the baby growing inside you as well. However, certain immunizations can risk harming rather than helping your baby, even while they may benefit you. Therefore, you must know ahead of time which immunizations are necessary for you and your baby while you are pregnant and which ones should absolutely be avoided.
For starters, if you are pregnant, then you should not take the MMR immunization, varicella immunization or live zoster vaccine. All of these vaccines use live cultures and can, therefore, risk infecting rather than immunizing a baby with a still-nascent immune system. However, you should get the influenza vaccine prior to pregnancy (or during, if not taken prior) as well as the getting the TDaP vaccine, while pregnant. When you take the TDaP vaccine while you are pregnant, you will pass some of those antibodies onto your baby prior to birth, helping to protect him or her against whooping cough. You should get these vaccines each time you are pregnant.