Scary stories about the coronavirus have dominated the news headlines for most of 2020, but public health officials encourage residents of Anamosa and elsewhere to make sure they also continue to pay attention to other health threats that could affect their lives and their families, whether they’re receiving hospice care or traditional home health care.
Everything we read about COVID-19 is certainly concerning, even frightening, especially since science is still learning about how it works, how it is spread, and how to defend against it. The team at Above and Beyond Home Health Care and Hospice has also been taking extra caution to protect our clients and protect our staff—both groups of people are vital to what we do. So our aides, nurses, and other personnel put extra effort into keeping things sanitized to reduce possible infection and contagion.
Although researchers are working on a vaccine, the pharmaceutical community estimates that it could be at least a year at best until an effective vaccine is discovered, tested, and is ready for widespread distribution. This includes human trials and other methods to evaluate any possible side effects, and then additional time to set up a national network to make sure it’s available to anyone who wants or needs it.
In the meantime, medical professionals recommend that people take other safety measures to protect their health, including making sure they’re current on all of their other immunizations and vaccines. Seniors are in a higher health risk category, especially those with chronic or pre-existing health conditions.
“Winging it” and hoping you don’t get exposed to anything potentially could be dangerous to not just you but people you might come into contact with.
So that’s why it’s important to check if other vaccines or medications are needed. These can include:
- Flu shots were already recommended prior to the current pandemic, particularly in the fall. Typically, people are injected with a different strain that is less dangerous but will still lower the risk of exposure if they come into contact with the more dangerous flu. Providers and even some pharmacies can provide a small injection or a spray that goes in the mouth.
- The “adult” version of chickenpox can cause high amounts of pain, rashes, nerve damage, and more. If you had chickenpox as a child, there’s a possibility it could remain in the body and possibly re-activate in the future due to stress or a weakened immune system. Although chickenpox has been around for years, a shingles vaccine only recently has become available.
- There are vaccines available for Hepatitis A and B, but not currently for Hepatitis C. The contagious infection can cause problems through the body, including the liver. Vaccines are recommended for people who may be exposed to blood and other fluids as a regular part of their day. These can include health care workers and employees in foodservice businesses such as restaurants or kitchens.
- Pneumonia/lungs. Although this vaccine isn’t necessarily recommended for younger people, the Centers for Disease Control does suggest it for those 65 and older, especially those with past lung or respiratory health conditions. There are actually two types of related vaccines, PPSV23 (pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine), which protects against meningitis and various bloodstream infections, and PCV13, or pneumococcal conjugate vaccine that can protect against pneumonia more.
- This vaccine is typically given to children or teens and recommended every 10 years, but not everyone may have received it or they may need a booster after so many decades have passed. This vaccination can protect against diphtheria, tetanus, and other conditions.
It’s important when considering various vaccinations, to discuss them with your health provider. He or she may recommend them to help your overall health or discourage some or all of them if you’re dealing with other chronic health conditions that could be impacted.
In some cases, a vaccination won’t entirely eliminate the possibility of you contracting a particular disease. But what it will do is lower the risk of you getting it, and if you do, the symptoms may not be as severe as someone who hasn’t been immunized. In the case of the flu or shingles, you may feel bad if you have them, but may not need hospitalization or have an increased risk of death in some cases.
This month is an excellent opportunity to learn more. August has been declared National Immunization Awareness Month, an opportunity to learn about the value of vaccinations and immunizations for all ages, from babies and children to seniors. It’s also an opportunity to read information from the medical community about why vaccinations are important and dispel some rumors that have come up in recent years from people who question the value of them.
Visitors to the site can also see a general schedule of immunizations for every age group and an explanation of why they’re useful.