By the time they’re 2 years old, most children in the United States have been vaccinated against the majority of serious infectious diseases. When kids receive their shots, the doctor records them in a vaccination record to show to schools and employers when necessary, and to make sure each child has been fully vaccinated.
Sadly, some children miss out on some or all of these vital immunizations. And even those who have received their vaccinations may have lost their vaccine record and have no way of tracing their medical history.
If you’re unsure about your vaccination schedule, and you can’t figure out which you’ve had and which you need, Dr. Farah Khan, at Millennium Park Medical Associates in Greenwood Village, Colorado, can set the record straight and get you up to date. Here’s what you need to know.
To understand how vaccines protect you, you need to start with a basic understanding of how your immune system works.
Every time bacteria or viruses enter your body — through a cut in your skin, bodily fluids, or the air you breathe — your body mounts an attack on the invader. Your immune system evaluates the pathogen and produces antibodies specifically designed to destroy it.
Once the battle ends, those antibodies remain in your system as reserve soldiers ready to fight again another day if that same pathogen tries to invade again. But the next time, the battle will be faster and less severe because your antibodies already exist.
Vaccines trigger this process without the hassle of getting you sick in the first place. A very small amount of a specific virus or bacterium is injected into your body so your immune system can produce antibodies against it. This way, if you come into contact with that specific infectious disease, like the mumps or measles, your body immediately knows what to do and how to defeat it.
Are you up to date on your vaccines?
If this question has you a little concerned, we can help. Simply bring your immunization record to us, and we can determine if there are any gaps. Many of our adult patients mistakenly believe that vaccines are for kids, and once you’re an adult you no longer need any shots, but that’s not true.
There are several vaccinations that require boosters throughout your life and some that begin in the teen years or late adulthood. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides a thorough schedule of necessary vaccines categorized by age groups so you can compare your records at a glance.
If you have no record of your past immunizations, you may be able to recreate one by contacting past doctors and requesting your medical records. If this isn’t possible, Dr. Khan can begin your immunizations and help you establish a new schedule.
Some vaccines are only needed once in a lifetime, while others need to be repeated periodically, and others (like the flu) require annual shots. Our team can get you caught up and keep you on schedule.
The COVID-19 vaccination
We can’t talk about immunizations without including the most recent vaccine in the lineup — COVID-19. In an effort to eradicate the spread of COVID-19 and save lives, we offer the vaccine at all Millennium Park Medical Associates locations.
In Colorado, everyone over the age of 12 is eligible to receive the Moderna vaccination, and everyone over the age of 18 can get the Johnson & Johnson or Pfizer vaccine. If you choose the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines, you’ll need two doses spaced 21-28 days apart. The Johnson & Johnson version is a single-dose vaccine.
COVID vaccines, like vaccines for other diseases, are designed to teach your body how to fight off a specific pathogen — in this case, the COVID-19 virus — and avoid illness.
Vaccines aren’t only about you
When you become vaccinated, you not only protect yourself from disease, but you keep others around you safer as well. The fewer infected people there are walking around in the world, the fewer people who are exposed. Eventually, some diseases may be eradicated completely.
So, do yourself and those you love a favor by making sure all your vaccinations are up to date. Call our friendly staff or book an appointment online today.