August is National Immunization Awareness Month. Vaccines have been in the news a lot the last few years, and not always for the right reasons. Some parents have refused to vaccinate their kids because of rumors and unnecessary fears. But vaccines have been proven safe again and again. More importantly, they are the most effective way to prevent many diseases.
Doctors and scientists all agree: vaccines save lives. Millions of lives in fact. Every year. So what exactly are they, and what diseases do they prevent? And when should you and your family get them? Read on to discover more.
What are vaccines?
Vaccines are medicines that prevent diseases before you get them. They train your body’s immune system, preparing it to fight the disease if you ever get it. Most vaccines are given as shots.
Vaccines are safe
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains how our government ensures the safety of all vaccines:
“Before a vaccine is ever given to people, [the government] oversees extensive lab testing of the vaccine that can take several years to make sure it is safe and effective. After the lab, testing in people begins, and it can take several more years before the clinical studies are complete and the vaccine is licensed. Once a vaccine is licensed, [multiple] federal agencies routinely monitor its use and investigate any potential safety concerns.”
Vaccines are effective
Vaccines are one of the best ways you can protect the health of your family. They prevent many common illnesses and diseases before you get them. There are shots for the flu, measles, chickenpox, tetanus, polio, pneumonia, hepatitis A and B, shingles and many other conditions.
Important things to know
Both children and adults need specific vaccinations. Talk with your doctor – he or she can make sure you’re getting the right shots at the right time. For kids, many vaccines should be given at a certain age.
Here are helpful charts to let you know the recommended vaccinations for infants and children up to age 18, preteens and teens and adults. Some vaccines include multiple shots given at different ages.
Our health coaches can help you manage your or your child’s vaccination schedule. We also help you keep track of your children’s shots by sending birthday card reminders.
Like any medication, vaccines can cause side effects, but most are minor. Also, because of age, health condition or other reasons, some people shouldn’t get certain vaccinations or should wait for a later time. Always talk with your doctor about the vaccines you and your children plan to get. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a helpful list for who shouldn’t get each specific vaccine.
Questions about coverage?
Immunizations are just some of the many preventive services we cover. Some vaccines are covered as part of your plan’s medical benefits, and some are covered under your wellness benefits. You’re free to get covered vaccines from any of our network pharmacies that offer them, if that’s easier than visiting the doctor.*
So now you know the basics of vaccines. They are safe, effective and easy to get. Protect yourself and your family by staying up-to-date on all of your vaccinations.
- Listen to our latest episode of the Hally Healthcast, where Dr. Steven O’Marro discusses five vaccines important for adults.
- Read here to learn more about vaccines and their impact worldwide.
- Find more resources and tips on getting your children all the shots they need.
- Read more about the importance of vaccinations for adults on the OSF HealthCare Blog.
- Check out this episode of Riverside Healthcare’s podcast to learn more about childhood immunizations.
- Want more information about the flu shot? Read this blog piece by the Sarah Bush Lincoln Health System.
*Shots at pharmacies aren’t covered if you get them outside of our network. Groups with out-of-network benefits may be eligible to get them outside of our pharmacy network and pay out-of-network rates, then submit an itemized receipt for reimbursement. View all of your coverage details at YourHealthAlliance.org or with our Hally™ app. If you have any questions, call the number on the back of your ID card.