Boston, MA (Vocus) July 28, 2009
It's that time of year - parents are enrolling their kids in school, college students are packing up their bedrooms, and primary care physicians are filling up their appointment books with annual physicals. As parents and adolescents plan for back to school, it's important to make sure that everyone in the family is up-to-date with their immunizations to protect themselves and others from severe infections and illnesses.
In recognition of National Immunization Awareness Month, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts' Prevention and Wellness Program offers the following tips about vaccinations:
- Prevention is protection: Vaccines enable children and adults to prepare their bodies to fight infectious diseases that can cause serious illness or death. By staying current with vaccinations, people can also protect themselves from contact with unvaccinated individuals.
- Immunizations are not just for kids: People of all ages - children to young adults to senior citizens - can benefit from immunizations. Each year the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) posts recommended adult immunizations on their website. You can visit the website to learn about tetanus booster shots; the flu shot; hepatitis A and B vaccines; the pneumococcal vaccine; measles, mumps and rubella vaccine (MMR); and immunizations for chickenpox and meningitis.
- Learn about guidelines: Hundreds of resources provide immunization and screening guidelines. Charts may be available at the doctor's office, school nurses' office, or online. A printable chart is available on the My Wellbeing section of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts' website. Keep in mind that recommendations change all the time and everyone's situation is different, so it is important for everyone to discuss each vaccine with their doctor to determine which, if any, are needed.
- Safety first: Each person is unique and may react differently to immunization. In most cases, vaccines are effective and cause no side effects. Some people however, experience mild reactions, such as fever or soreness at the injection site. Occasionally, people who receive a vaccine do not respond to it and may still get the illness the vaccine was meant to protect them against. Discuss possible side effects with your doctor before receiving any vaccination.
- Keep a record: Keep track of the vaccines that each family member receives. An immunization health record helps keep vaccinations on schedule. Having an accurate record can also prevent family members from repeating unnecessary vaccinations.
BCBSMA's Prevention and Wellness Program started in January 1995 and provides initiatives to promote preventive health to BCBSMA's 3 million members. For more information about Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts's Prevention and Wellness Programs, call 1-800-262-BLUE.