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Importance of Vaccination and Staying Healthy

November 29, 2021 | Blog

Vaccines today can be a very controversial topic. There are many benefits but also concerns and risks which prevent people from receiving vaccinations. To understand the use of vaccinations it’s important to go as far back as 1796 and learn about the history and the impact they have had on the world. Variations of vaccination practices go back to China and India in which they would inject a healthy patient with “matter” of a mildly sick patient. This was based on two concepts: first, that one attack of smallpox effectively protected against any subsequent attack and, second, that a person deliberately infected with a mild case of the disease would safely acquire such protection. Smallpox was widespread all around in the 18th century and resulted in a very high death rate. Edward Jenner was fascinated in the idea that cowpox, which was a mild disease contracted by cattle, could prevent people from smallpox no matter the exposure and can act as protection. In May of 1796 Edward Jenner tested out his findings on a young boy which resulted in him not getting smallpox after being injected with smallpox matter. That was just the start of his journey. It took a while for the public to get on board, there was speculation and complications but once accepted and understood, the death rate from smallpox plunged and Jenner received world recognition. 

After this discovery the past 100’s of years the medical industry has been about improving these medical developments. In the mid 20th century, methods for growing viruses in the laboratory led to rapid discoveries and innovations, including the creation of vaccines for polio. There has been major progress in medicine surrounding vaccines including the COVID-19 vaccine being accessible to everyone currently. Some benefits of getting vaccinated whether it’s the COVID-19 vaccine, or influenza, are that they are simply forms of protection. You are protecting yourself, but also others around you and helping stop the spread of the disease. It is also cost saving. When getting vaccinated, you are preventing disease. If you end up contracting the disease the potential hospital and doctor visits can get costly. People speculate that vaccines aren’t always 100% effective, though when receiving vaccines your symptoms might be less harsh. There are also some side effects to some vaccinations, soreness is the most common, as well as more serious complications like seizures but are very rare and less common than deaths caused by the diseases you get the vaccine to protect. 

Common vaccines: 

Varicella (chickenpox)

Chickenpox is a very contagious disease that creates blister-like rashes that itch as well as fever and tiredness. Each year, chickenpox caused about 4 million cases, about 10,600 hospitalizations and 100 to 150 deaths.The vaccine requires 2 doses (shots) that is 90% effective in preventing chickenpox. If you are able to get the vaccine, get it for people who cannot be around you such as pregnant women.  

Flu (Influenza) 

The Flu is a contagious respiratory illness that is caused by influenza viruses. Symptoms include, a cough, chills, sore throat, fever, running or stuffy nose, headache, body aches and more. Every year in the US, millions of people are sickened, hundreds of thousands are hospitalized and thousands or tens of thousands of people die from the flu. Serious flu related symptoms can affect older individuals 65 years or older or people of any age with chronic medical conditions. Best way to prevent the flu is getting the flu vaccine each year. 

Hepatitis A and B

Hepatitis A is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV). Hepatitis is a disease that can affect anyone. Common symptoms include pain in the abdomen, joints and muscles, loss of appetite, diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, fever, fatigue, and more. The vaccine is for long-term prevention. If you keep good hygiene and proper sanitation can also help prevent attracting hepatitis A. Hepatitis B like hepatitis A is a serious disease caused by a virus that attacks the liver. This can have a lifelong infection and cause scarring on your liver, liver cancer, and liver failure as well as death. The vaccine is available for all age groups. 

With flu season in session, it’s important for us to be educated. The flu is a common viral infection that attacks the lungs, nose and throat. Symptoms may include: fever, chills, cough, muscle aches, runny nose, congestion, headaches and more. There are many ways you can avoid getting these symptoms and enjoying your fall/winter season. The flu can be really stressful and even deadly for high-risk people so taking the steps below can help protect your health.

Steps to preventing infectious diseases:

Wash your hands 

Number one way of avoiding getting sick is taking care of your hygiene and making sure you wash your hands. We touch tons of different services throughout our day, and as much as we think we are being careful we never know what’s on those services. These surfaces may have harmful bacteria and viruses. With unwashed hands, touching our face, making food, or even hugging others can put yourself or others at risk. Scrub your hands in clean running water for 20+ seconds with soap to best get rid of any lingering germs that might still be on them. 

Use hand sanitizer

If washing your hand isn’t accessible. Use hand sanitizer whenever possible, then when you can continue to wash your hands as well. Make sure to use hand sanitizer that is 60 percent alcohol or more so that the most amount of germs are killed. You can buy hand sanitizer just about anywhere including pharmacies, grocery stores, gas stations, and more. 

Cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough 

Make sure to cover your mouth or nose when coughing or sneezing. This is the best way to avoid spreading any germs you might have to others. You should use tissues or cough into your arm if possible. The flu is a respiratory illness and can be spread through the air, so making sure the air is clean from those around you is a great way to keep people safe.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth 

Though it is a natural reflex to scratch your nose or rub your eyes when they feel affected, avoiding it all together is the best way to stay healthy. Touching dirty surfaces and then touching your face, mouth, and nose is an easy way to spread viruses to your immune system. If it is harder for you to not touch your face, make sure you are at least constantly washing your hands to avoid illness. 

Get the flu shot

The CDC recommends getting the flu shot before flu season, but the flu is also all year round. Check the CDC website if you have any concerns regarding the shot, but usually there are little to no side effects with the shot. Check out CDC’s website for more information. 

Get tested if you get sick

With the rapid spread of COVID-19, it is better to be safe than sorry. Both the flu and COVID-19 have similar symptoms so it can be difficult to know which you have. You can still get the common cold, flu, or other illness anytime of the year, but it’s important to take the right precautions for both yourself and your loved ones and get tested if you feel symptoms coming up. 

Other ways to stay healthy:

  • Eat healthy 
  • Exercise 
  • Get enough sleep 
  • Reduce stress 
  • Practice good hygiene 

Some of the most effective ways to prevent influenza breakouts and limit the severity and longevity of the symptoms are very simple. For example, remembering to wash your hands, cover your mouth and getting plenty of rest are all great ways to avoid infection of the flu. It is paramount to remember to stay safe, clean and well-rested during flu season. At Spring Hills Senior Communities, we take necessary precautions to ensure the health and safety of our seniors is always maintained. To learn more about our holistic approach to senior care, contact us.

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