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    International Infection Prevention Week: Vaccines are Everybody's Business

    Commanding Officer receives flu vaccine

    Photo By Macy Hinds | Capt. Kimberly Zuzelski, Commanding Officer of Naval Health Clinic Hawaii, receives...... read more read more



    Courtesy Story

    Naval Health Clinic Hawaii

    Oct. 13-19, 2019 is International Infection Prevention Week which coincides with the beginning of the Northern Hemisphere influenza season. Our clinics are now able to provide the influenza vaccine to all active duty and Tricare beneficiaries and it is strongly recommended to all persons aged 6 months and older to help minimize the impact of this seasonal affliction. We would also like to take this moment to remind our patients of the importance of routine and periodic vaccinations for children, teens, and adults for individual and community health protection.

    Before vaccines became a routine component of health care in the United States, 15,000 people a year were paralyzed by polio, 1 in 15 children died from pneumococcal meningitis, and pertussis infections killed many infants younger than 3 months. By exposing the body to a small amount of a weakened or inactivated viral or bacterial component (an antigen), the body creates and accumulates memory and fighter cells called antibodies. When the body is subsequently exposed to the actual disease-causing organisms, these antibodies allow the immune system to quickly respond and clear the infection before the disease develops. The exposure would be unnoticed by the individual. Statistically, the chances of a child getting a disease such as polio or mumps is very low because overall, the U.S. population has a very high vaccination rate. However, certain communities in the U.S. have large numbers of unvaccinated individuals, making them vulnerable to imported diseases from foreign travelers. This exact scenario occurred in the U.S. the past year with measles outbreaks in several states with more than 1200 cases (the highest case total since 2000).

    Protecting a child from preventable diseases begins during pregnancy when the growing fetus receives antibodies through the mother's blood supply. However, this immunity subsides within the first few months after birth (approximately 6 months). For infants, early and frequent vaccinations provide protection from multiple diseases (e.g. polio, diphtheria, tetanus, rotavirus, hepatitis B, pertussis). To reduce the number of shots required during the first year of life, combination vaccines are used allowing two or more vaccines to be administered simultaneously.

    As children and adults get older, the immunity built from previous vaccines may decrease, requiring the use of booster doses (e.g. tetanus, polio). Additionally, other vaccines are given to children to protect them from exposures which typically begin during adulthood such as bacterial meningitis and human papilloma virus-associated diseases and cervical cancer.

    People with weakened or compromised immune systems, such as patients undergoing cancer treatment, patients with immune-related diseases which require immune suppression to manage, and those who have serve allergic reactions to a component of vaccines, may not be able to be vaccinated. These patients rely on a high vaccination rate in the general population to protect them from diseases in which they cannot receive individual protection. This is called herd immunity or community immunity. If a disease enters a community, transmission cannot be sustained if the general population is highly vaccinated. Consequently, those who cannot receive the vaccine are protected by their community.

    Thank you for learning a little more about vaccination and please see your primary care provider or immunization clinic if you think you or your family members need their vaccination history reviewed or updated.

    Courtesy of:
    Commander Jason Blitz, Preventative Medicine Officer and Immunizations Director
    Ms. Heather Matz, RN
    Petty Officer Second Class Ericka Brockelmeyer



    Date Taken: 10.16.2019
    Date Posted: 10.16.2019 20:52
    Story ID: 347923

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