The importance of vaccines on your back-to-school to do list

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Back-to-school to do lists usually includes a visit to the doctor. ((U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin W. Stratton)

By Dr. Sarah E. Laibstain, NDG Guest Contributor 

For many, August marks the beginning of a new school year which likely includes an extensive to-do list. As your family prepares for the school year, updating vaccinations should be a top priority for you and your family. With August as the National Immunization Awareness Month, it’s a great time to understand why immunizations are an important part of protecting you and your family’s health.

Regardless of age, immunizations may help prevent you and your loved ones from vaccine-preventable diseases, such as the flu or measles. Also, outbreaks of infectious illnesses can spread quickly through preschools, schools, and colleges. We saw this across the DFW area with measles and mumps outbreaks in the last two years. Staying up-to-date on vaccinations can help you and your family stay healthy during the fall months.

We all know contracting illnesses as a child or an adult can cause discomfort as well as inconvenience. School absenteeism due to viruses is the most common occurrence affecting children across the nation. Illnesses can spread quickly through school settings due to poor hand washing and coughing, creating highly contagious environments.

Updating vaccinations are the most effective and safe way to reduce the risk of infection throughout schools and the community. An appointment with your physician can provide information about vaccine needs and issues related specifically to different age groups. Your physician will take into account your child’s medical history and determine which immunizations may be the most effective.

As you gear up for the school year, it’s important to prioritize the health of your entire family. National Immunization Awareness Month encourages adults to take preventable measures as well. Every year, over 200,000 people become seriously ill from viral infections that could have been prevented. Regardless of age, vaccines lower the chance of developing certain diseases, such as influenza which affects many families every year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, receiving the flu vaccination can reduce the risk of illness by 40 to 60 percent. Staying up-to-date can also avert the spread of diseases to your family and loved ones.

National Immunization Awareness Month is a friendly reminder that vaccinations are a safe and easy way to promote a healthier lifestyle. With summer ending and school beginning, it is important to make time to visit your family physician for you and your family’s vaccinations. Not to mention, taking preventable measures can offer you a piece of mind before you send your child to school. Visit your family physician this August to learn more about the benefits of vaccinations and take part in National Immunization Awareness Month.

Dr. Sarah E. Laibstain is a general family medicine practitioner at Family Medicine Associates of Texas in Carrollton. She thoroughly enjoys improving the health and lives of individuals ranging from young children to adulthood.