Have you asked your doctor about flu and pneumococcal vaccines?
The World Health Organization (WHO) states that vaccination is a simple and effective way of preventing many harmful diseases. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines vaccines as products “that stimulate a person’s immune system to produce immunity to a specific disease, protecting that person from that disease”. The vaccine lets our body “know” the disease-causing microbe, and it allows the body to build an immune response. This immune response protects the body from that microbe if in case it enters the body in the future.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic broke, vaccination has been emphasized as an important measure in the prevention of disease. Infants and children were regularly brought to their pediatricians for their routine immunizations. Working-age adults who are aware of the importance of immunization receive annual influenza (flu) vaccinations. Those who prefer to have wider protection can also opt to receive pneumococcal vaccines, or human papilloma virus (HPV—cervical cancer) vaccines, among others. More than just protecting oneself, vaccines also help deliver herd immunity. This means that when there are many vaccinated people in the community who are protected from a disease, it makes the spread of the disease more difficult. This thereby confers some protection even to persons who may not yet be protected from the disease.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictions placed to limit the movement of persons has affected our lives in multiple ways. Especially during the first few months of the pandemic, a lot of people were afraid of visiting clinics and hospitals for fear of being exposed to sick individuals. This has resulted in routine medical consultations being delayed, including immunizations.
A year into the pandemic, we have seen that COVID-19-related restrictions are slowly being loosened. Almost all hospitals have already instituted safety measures to protect non-COVID-19 patients who avail of service in their facilities. This ensures that patients can see their doctor, avail of laboratory services and medical procedures with confidence that they will be safe inside the hospital or clinic facility.
Vaccines against COVID-19 will help us move out of the pandemic. But beyond waiting for COVID-19 vaccines, we must not forget the importance of vaccination to prevent common respiratory infections such as flu and pneumonia. While influenza and pneumococcal vaccines do not directly protect persons from COVID-19, it helps prevent common and also potentially deadly respiratory infections such as flu and pneumonia. For working professionals, vaccination against flu and pneumonia may also help reduce work absences and preserve productivity. These vaccines are also affordable when you compare their prices to the cost of seeking medical treatment if one catches flu or pneumonia. These vaccines also have a tried and tested reputation of safe and effective use. So, while waiting for the COVID vaccine, why not set an appointment with your doctor? Ask your doctor how flu and pneumococcal vaccines can help protect you and your family’s heath. Your doctor is your best friend on this—he/she should be able to inform you if you are a good candidate to receive these vaccines. Remember, in these uncertain times, it pays to be protected. Ask your doctor about flu and pneumococcal vaccines today!