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The Easiest Way to Prevent Disease

August 9, 2018
There are a lot of myths surrounding the topic of vaccines and it's important to know the truth about them. Getting vaccinated has a hugely positive effect on your health and the health of those around you. Vaccines are the reason that we no longer have to worry about many dangerous diseases like polio and smallpox and they greatly reduce your likelihood of catching the flu, pneumonia, shingles, and other viruses.

Contrary to what you may have heard, vaccinations do not cause autism in children. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is no link between the two, and leaving your children unvaccinated puts them at risk when they are most vulnerable. Diseases that may make a healthy adult uncomfortable for a couple of days can be devastating to young children, especially those with a compromised immune system.

There is a small population of children unable to get vaccinated due to other health problems; they are particularly vulnerable. One of the ways that we can protect them is through what is called "herd immunity." This is when the majority of the population becomes immune to a disease, stopping its spread and protecting those who can't be vaccinated. However, it only works when healthy people get vaccinated.

Many people have heard that getting a flu shot actually causes the flu. As stated by the CDC, this simply isn't true. You may experience some side effects, but the mild and short-lived symptoms are nothing compared to coming down with the full-blown flu virus.

If you had chickenpox as a child or were never given the vaccine, you are at risk for getting shingles, a painful, blistering rash that appears on your skin. Shingles mostly occurs in adults over the age of 50 and is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. If you were infected when you were young, it's possible for the virus to reactivate and cause shingles. The newest shingles vaccine is a 2-dose vaccine, separated by 2-6 months between doses, and is up to 90% effective in preventing shingles. It is not yet covered by Medicare, but is covered by other insurers, so please check with your provider or pharmacist about the cost.

Another easily preventable disease is pneumonia. A majority of pneumonia cases are caused by a bacterial infection that can most often be prevented by the pneumonia vaccine (however, vaccination does not prevent pneumonias caused by a viral infection). Pneumonia frequently causes complications for the elderly and for those who are already ill and is the number one cause of vaccine-preventable deaths in the United States. This fact can be easy to disregard if it isn't relevant to your situation. However, the purpose of vaccines is prevention. Getting vaccinated not only prevents infection in the future, it can give you peace of mind knowing that you've done what you can to protect yourself and others around you. Watch related content featuring Dr. Theodore Bailey, infectious disease specialist for GBMC Health Partners – Infectious Disease.

If you have not been vaccinated against the flu, pneumonia, or shingles, or you are not sure, speak to your primary care physician about scheduling an appointment for vaccination. Your doctor will consider your risk factors and advise you about when it’s appropriate to receive each vaccination.

Current patients of GBMC Health Partners – Primary Care practices are welcome to attend one of the following drive-through flu vaccination events at Family Care Associates:
  • Saturday, September 22, 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.
  • Saturday, October 13, 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.
  • Saturday, November 3, 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.
This flu vaccine program is open to all patients of GBMC Health Partners primary care practices. We will bill your insurance for the cost of the vaccine. For those paying with cash, the cost will be $46. There is no need to call for an appointment - simply drive through! Our staff will bring the vaccine(s) to your car. Please bring your insurance card and a photo ID; you will be asked to complete a flu vaccine consent form.

If you don’t have a primary care physician, visit www.gbmc.org/mydoctor to find one who is right for you.

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