Medical Advice: Keep vaccines between you and disease

“A NEW YEAR, NEW YOU” is the motto for many as they make their New Year’s resolutions. For some, this means changing their look or adopting healthier habits. These are great considerations. Another important goal for the New Year should be to make sure your vaccinations are up to date. Without these, the “new you” may not be protected against serious illnesses.

It is always better to prevent a disease than to treat it after it occurs. Diseases that used to be common in this country and around the world, including polio, measles, diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), rubella (German measles), mumps, tetanus, rotavirus and Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) can now be prevented by vaccination. Thanks to a vaccine, one of the most terrible diseases in history — smallpox — no longer exists outside the laboratory. Over the years, vaccines have prevented countless cases of disease and saved millions of lives.

There are vaccine recommendations for different age groups and specific groups of people such as pregnant women and those about to embark on international travel. The Advisory Committee on Immunizations Practices (ACIP) develops recommendations on how to use vaccines to control diseases. These recommendations include the ages when the vaccines should be given, the number of doses needed, the amount of time between doses, and precautions and contraindications. Full recommendations and schedules can be found at

Check with your health-care provider about vaccine schedules for you and your family. Some of the diseases that can be prevented by vaccination include:

• Tetanus-Diphtheria-Pertussis (Tdap)

• Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

• Meningitis (Meningococcal)

• Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR)

• Chickenpox

• Seasonal flu

• Pneumonia (Pneumococcal)

• Shingles

• Hepatitis A and/or B infection

In addition to immunizations, hand washing and practicing healthy hygiene go hand-in-hand to reduce the spread of germs and disease. Remember to practice the following:

• Wash hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

• Try not to touch or shake hands with people who are sick.

• Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.

• Cover coughs or sneezes with a tissue or into an upper sleeve or elbow, not your hands.

• Stay home when sick.

Remember to keep the new, healthy you shielded from diseases by making immunizations a priority this year. For information about immunizations, visit For information about staying healthy this coming year, please visit the Florida Department of Health in Polk County at


article by DR. JOY JACKSON

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dr. Joy Jackson, an internal medicine physician, serves the community as director of the Florida Department of Health in Polk County (FDOH-Polk). For more information about FDOH-Polk, visit

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