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Vaccines important for ever age group
Health advice
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August is National Immunization Awareness Month and this year’s goals are to increase awareness of immunizations for everyone, from infants to the elderly. This is an especially important reminder, not only for parents of infants and children but for adolescents, adults and seniors.
There are a number of immunizations that the Centers for Disease Control recommends for these age groups. By staying up to date on recommended vaccines, individuals protect themselves, family, friends and their communities from contagious, vaccine-preventable infections. If people stop getting immunized, the diseases no longer commonly seen in the U.S. will return. The recent outbreak of measles in California is an example of this.
As you can imagine, immunizations are a vital tool for community health and a line of defense against some of the most deadly and debilitating diseases known.
Vaccines are given early in life because many vaccine-preventable diseases are more common and more deadly among infants and small children. However, some adults were never immunized as children and need to catch up while others need updated vaccines for diseases such as influenza. Influenza viruses mutate over time, rendering older vaccinations ineffective.
The percent of adults in Georgia older than 65 who have never had a pneumonia or influenza vaccination is only 65.2 percent, according to the CDC and Kaiser 2008.
Adolescent girls now can get the new HPV vaccine that protects against strains of human papilloma virus that are responsible for causing 70 percent of all cervical cancers. This is the second anti-cancer vaccine. The first is the Hepatitis D vaccine given routinely to all new-borne infants. This vaccine prevents approximately 80 percent of all primary liver cancers.
Adolescents also are now required to have the Menactra vaccine before going off to college, which protects them from meningitis.
It is very important to keep accurate records — including the day, month and year of every vaccination — and keep them in a safe place. The records may be needed by medical personnel, colleges and even jobs or for international travel. Older adults should remember to take their records when they go for a Zostavax shot, which is given to adults older than 60 to protect them against shingles.

Ratcliffe can be reached at
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