Vaccination = Protection for All Ages
Vaccination protects people of all ages from diseases that cause illness, disability and death. South Heartland District Health Department (SHDHD) is encouraging parents, grandparents and family members to review shot records and make sure everyone gets updated on recommended immunizations.
Dorrann Hultman, RN, immunization clinic coordinator at SHDHD, recommends that if you are unable to locate your shot records, call your doctor for a printout or visit the Nebraska State Immunization Information System (NESIIS) http://dhhs.ne.gov/publichealth/Pages/nesiis_index.aspx.
“Keeping up with vaccination schedules can be confusing, so reach out to your doctor or nurse, or a public health nurse at South Heartland District Health Department, for assistance and recommendations,” said Hultman.
In Nebraska, immunizations are a requirement for school attendance, both public and private. Written proof of immunization must be provided to schools prior to students attending classes. Schools must keep current immunization records on students and submit them to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Immunization Program each year.
“Having high rates of vaccination is important for preventing spread of disease,” said Michele Bever, SHDHD health director. “In the South Heartland District of Adams, Clay, Nuckolls and Webster counties, kindergarten vaccination rates are above 96% for all of the required immunizations. The national target is a vaccination rate at or above 95% for this age group, so this means that our young children are well-protected.”
“Childhood diseases are not the only diseases that can be prevented with vaccines,” said Janis Johnson, a public health nurse with SHDHD. “If you were told there was a vaccine that could protect against cancer, would you get it for yourself and/or your children?” Johnson says that such a vaccine exists. “It’s the HPV vaccine that protects against the types of human papillomavirus (HPV) most closely linked with cancer. Your sons and daughters should get this vaccine starting at age 11-12 when immune response is strongest and before potential exposure to the virus.”
HPV is a very common and dangerous virus. “Don’t let the fact that it is so common, or that most people’s immune systems will clear the virus after a while, distract you from the fact that for others, infection with high risk strains of the virus can be deadly,” said Hultman. “HPV is the cause of several cancers but primarily cancer of the cervix in women and cancer of the oropharynx (mouth and throat) in men.”
Vaccines can be expensive. Most health insurance covers vaccines and preventive care. If your family does not have insurance, your insurance never covers vaccines, or you have Medicaid, then your children 0-18 years old qualify for vaccines through the Vaccine for Children Program offered through some medical and health clinics, including South Heartland’s Hastings/Adams County Immunization Clinic.
Hultman says that the South Heartland clinic is held the first Thursday of each month from 12:00 pm – 6:00 pm. Interested individuals may call 402-462-6211 or1-877-238-7595 for an appointment or to find the closest immunization clinic. Hultman says that adult Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis) vaccine is also offered at the clinic for those who qualify. For more information on HPV, Tdap, and other immunizations, visit www.southheartlandhealth.org.
“Vaccines protect and save lives!” she said.
Michele M. Bever, PhD, MPH
South Heartland District Health Department
606 N. Minnesota Ave, Suite 2
Hastings, NE 68901