The importance of vaccines

August 1, 2011

August is National Immunization Awareness Month, to observe this; we will run an article each week regarding immunizations. This is the first article in a series of five.

It’s true that newborn babies are immune to many diseases because they have antibodies they got from their mothers. However, the duration of this immunity may last only a month to about a year. Further, young children do not have maternal immunity against some vaccine-preventable diseases, such as whooping cough.
If a child is not vaccinated and is exposed to a disease germ, the child’s body may not be strong enough to fight the disease. Before vaccines, many children died from diseases that vaccines now prevent, such as whooping cough, measles, and polio. Those same germs exist today, but babies are now protected by vaccines, so we do not see these diseases as often.
Immunizing individual children also helps to protect the health of our community, especially those people who are not immunized. People who are not immunized include those who are too young to be vaccinated (e.g., children less than a year old cannot receive the measles vaccine but can be infected by the measles virus), those who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons (e.g., children with leukemia), and those who cannot make an adequate response to vaccination. Also protected, therefore, are people who received a vaccine, but who have not developed immunity. In addition, people who are sick will be less likely to be exposed to disease germs that can be passed around by unvaccinated children. Immunization also slows down or stops disease outbreaks.
The Sweetwater-Nolan County Health Department (SNCHD), located at 301 E. 12th, offers immunizations. Immunization clinics are held every Wednesday from 8:30-11:30 a.m. and 1-4:30 p.m.; the second Wednesday of each month from 8-11:30 a.m. and 1:30-6 p.m. There is a fee of $6 per person. Medicaid and CHIPS are accepted.
Vaccines are made available through the Texas Department of State Health Services’ Vaccine for Children (VFC) Program. Vaccines available through VFC are Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Acellular Pertussis (DTaP) for under 7 years of age; Tetanus, Diphtheria Adult (Td) for over 7 years of age; Diphtheria, Tetanus Pediatric (DT); Inactivated Polio (IPV); Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR); Haemophilus Influenza b Conjugate (HIB), Hepatitis B (HBV); Varicella (Chicken pox); Pneumococcal Conjugate (PCV); Rotavirus; Tetanus, Diphtheria and Acellular Pertussis (Tdap); for over 11 years of age; Human Papilloma (HPV); Meningococcal (MCV4), Hepatitis A (HAV); Pneumococcal Polysaccharide (PPV) for over 2 years of age; and Influenza vaccine (during flu season). Combination vaccines Pediarax (DTap/IPV/HepB), Pentacel (DTaP/IPV/HIB), Kinrix (DTaP/HIB) will be administered when available.
Immunizations are also available for adults through the “Adult Safety Net” program if a person meets the requirements.
Tuberculin skin testing is available during immunization clinic from 8:30-11:30 a.m., with reading of skin tests done on Friday mornings from 8-9 a.m.; clients are provided with appropriate documentation of results. There is a $10 fee per person for TB tests. Clients with positive skin test results are provided counseling and referral for further testing.
For more information about immunizations visit our website at www.nolancountyhealth.com or call 235-5463.

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