Immunizations are an essential part of staying healthy, no matter your age. Immune systems in newborns and older adults are not quite as robust as they are during other stages of life, which is why taking extra care during these stages — and getting necessary immunizations — is important to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Keeping Infants Healthy
According to the Cleveland Clinic, an infant’s immune system doesn’t mature until 2 to 3 months of age, leaving babies vulnerable to bacteria and viruses. In order to protect babies during their first months, limit their exposure to other people, be vigilant about watching for a fever and getting care immediately, and of course, keep up with their required vaccinations.
“Young babies can’t receive the pertussis vaccination until they are 2 months old,” said Monica Ledesma, certified medical assistant at Prowers Medical Center Clinic. “We suggest that every mom get the DTaP (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis) shot by 28 weeks of pregnancy in hopes that their bodies will make the antibodies to pertussis to pass on to their baby for some protection.”
Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is particularly concerning for young infants as it can be life-threatening. After 2 months, babies receive their first DTaP shot, which provides them with some protection against pertussis. They receive following DTaP shots at 4 months and 6 months.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the only immunization given at birth is Hepatitis B. After this initial shot, babies are due for vaccines at 2, 4, 6, 12, 15, 16, 17 and 18 months, and then not again until kindergarten — except for their annual flu shot.
Prowers Medical Center Clinic providers work with parents who wish to adjust this 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 percent by insurance and Medicaid.
Keeping Older Adults Healthy
Like infants, older adults need a little extra boost when it comes to immunity. This is because as we age, our immune system also ages and weakens.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, inflammation and infection play a large role in the weakening of aging immune systems. To lessen inflammation and infection in the body, it’s essential to stop smoking (if applicable), avoid too much sun, limit exposure to carcinogens and chemicals, and shed pounds (if overweight). Getting required immunizations during annual wellness exams is also extremely important.
“I highly recommend the flu shot every year, and for those 65 or older, the pneumonia immunization,” Ledesma said. “With pneumonia, we give two shots — one each year for two years in a row — and that covers patients for the rest of their lives.”
Besides the flu and pneumonia shot, the CDC also recommends individuals 50 years and older get the shingles vaccine.
To schedule an appointment at Prowers Medical Center Clinic, call (719) 336-6767. The Clinic is open 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 7 a.m. – 5 p.m. Friday. For more information on walk-in hours, go to prowersmedical.com/services/clinic.