Needham Doctor Shares Tips and Facts for National Vaccination Month
Needham resident and doctor at Mount Auburn Hospital, Robert Colgrove M.D., shares some important facts for vaccinations.
Vaccinations are one of the great success stories in medical history. In the United States alone, vaccines have saved many thousands of lives and prevented millions of serious infections. Though several vaccine-preventable illnesses are now rare in the US, their persistence elsewhere in the world in an era of global travel makes continued vaccination efforts crucial.
August is National Vaccination Month. Some important tips for adults and children:
As of 2012, there are a dozen recommended vaccines for infants and children, from the century-old diphtheria vaccine to newly developed vaccines for Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and influenza. With continued progress in the use of childhood vaccines, some illnesses such as chickenpox and bacterial meningitis have become much less common just over the past generation. Extensive clinical experience has shown these vaccines to be safe and effective and it is important for parents to work with their children’s doctors to ensure that they are most effectively used.
Although pediatric vaccines have received the most attention, some recent developments in adult vaccines merit attention. Perhaps most important, the Centers for Disease Control now recommends (with rare exceptions) universal annual influenza vaccination for adults. Data from other countries with universal flu vaccine programs suggest that universal vaccination of adults and children could save thousands of lives per year in this country, while more targeted programs are much less effective.
Over the past decade, several other new vaccines (or new vaccine recommendations) for adults show significant promise, including for pneumonia and meningitis. In addition, the US FDA has expanded the approved indications for the HPV and Herpes Zoster (shingles) vaccines. Continued rapid progress in this field makes it important for adults as well to discuss vaccination options with their health care providers.
The whole topic of vaccination is both medically very important, complex, and changing, so it is essential for people to get their information from reliable sources, especially trusted heath care providers and respected organizations like the Centers for Disease Control (www.cdc.gov). Misinformation about vaccines causes substantial unnecessary illness. With good vaccination practices, we can protect our own health and that of our families and communities.
Robert Colgrove M.D. is a HealthGrades recognized doctor who practices medicine in Mount Auburn Hospital’s Division of Infectious Diseases.