Whether you are young or old, immunizations are an important part of staying healthy. As newborns and as older adults, our immune systems are not quite as robust as they are during the rest of our lives. Taking extra care during these stages—and getting needed immunizations—is important to maintaining good health.
Keeping Infants Healthy
According to the Cleveland Clinic, an infant’s immune system doesn’t mature until approximately 2 to 3 months of age. That leaves babies more prone to bacteria and viruses. There are things you can do to protect babies during their first months. For example, limit their exposure to other people, be vigilant about watching for a fever and getting care immediately, and of course, keep up with required vaccinations.
“Young babies can’t receive the pertussis vaccination until they are two months old. That’s why we suggest that every mom get the TDAP (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis) shot by 28 weeks of pregnancy in hopes that their bodies will make the antibodies to pertussis and pass those on to their baby to provide some protection during those first two months after birth,” said Monica Ledesma, Certified Medical Assistant with Prowers Medical Center Clinic.
Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is particularly concerning for young infants as it can be life-threatening to young babies. At two months, babies receive their first DTaP shot, providing some protection against pertussis, and another at 4 months and 6 months.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the only immunization given at birth is HepB. From there, babies are due for shots at 2, 4, 6, 12, 15-18 months, and then not again until kindergarten—except of course the annual flu shot.
Prowers Medical Center Clinic providers work with parents who wish to adjust the schedule due to illness or preference, but highly recommend sticking with the CDC’s schedule.
“The schedule is set for a reason and following it provides the best protection against dangerous diseases,” Ledesma said.
Infant shots are given at wellness checks, both of which are covered 100% by insurance and Medicaid.
Keeping Older Adults Healthy
Like infants, older adults need a little extra boost when it comes to immunity. It’s well known that as we age our immune system also ages and weakens. According to the Cleveland Clinic, inflammation and infection play a large role in weakening our aging immune systems. To lessen inflammation and infection in the body, do all you can to stop smoking, keep drinking to the occasional, avoid too much sun, limit your exposure to carcinogens and chemicals, and finally, if overweight, lose some pounds. Getting required immunizations is also part of that list and are given during annual wellness exams.
“I highly recommend the flu shot every year, and for those 65 or older, the pneumonia immunization. With pneumonia, we give two shots—one each year for two years in a row—and that covers them for the rest of their lives,” Ledesma said.
Besides the flu and pneumonia shot, the CDC also recommends individuals 50 years and older get the shingles vaccine.
Watch for flu shots in the fall, offered at the Prowers Medical Center Clinic. Patients can either make an appointment or walk in between 8 am and 5 pm Monday through Friday. If you are due for an annual wellness exam, combine it with getting your needed immunizations for ease and convenience. To reach the Prowers Medical Center Clinic, call (719) 336-6767.