The WellSpan Spotlight

Health and wellness

Fall is coming. Are your kids vaccinated? Are you?

Fall is coming. Are your kids vaccinated? Are you?

Late summer is when life shifts back into a routine. Summer vacations are mostly behind us, kids go back to school, and regular schedules return. 

It's a good time for everyone – from toddlers to grandparents – to get updated on their vaccines. 

Here is a guide. 

Kids and vaccines 

Parents are urged to schedule routine well-child checkups at this time of year, particularly for school-age children. Their family physician can make sure the kids are up to date with their preventive care, including routine childhood vaccines, said Dr. Ashley Martin, a WellSpan family physician. 

The World Health Organization and UNICEF recently published a report showing that about 25 million children worldwide have missed out on routine immunizations against common diseases such as whooping cough and tetanus, largely because the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted regular health services or triggered misinformation about vaccines. The international organizations called it a "red alert" for child health. 

If the pandemic disrupted your routine, or even if you are simply getting prepared for the school year, kids need to be protected against illnesses such as the measles, mumps, rubella, polio, tetanus, diphtheria, whooping cough, hepatitis B, chickenpox, and meningococcal disease, Martin urged. 

For children between 9 and 18 years old, Martin also recommends the HPV vaccination, which protects against the most dangerous types of the human papillomaviruses that cause cervical, anal and tonsil cancers, as well as genital warts. 

In addition to their childhood immunizations, Martin recommends that children age 6 months and older receive a flu shot in the fall. 

Parents also can consider getting the COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 6 months and older, a move recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Children ages 5 years old and older can get a booster, if eligible. 

Kids can get their regular vaccines at the same time they get the COVID-19 vaccine. 

The COVID-19 vaccine protects kids and their families from severe disease and long-term complications, Martin said. It also reduces the spread of the virus, which has led to interruptions in in-person learning. 

Adults and vaccines 

Adults also need vaccinations to stay healthy, said Dr. John Keenan, WellSpan family physician.  

It's never too late to boost your protection against diseases such as the flu or, as you age, shingles and pneumonia. 

Adults who have not yet gotten the COVID-19 vaccine should consider it, Keenan said. The vaccine is safe and effective. 

In addition to the COVID-19 vaccine, here are his recommendations: 

  • All adults should receive a seasonal flu vaccine every year, a move that is particularly recommended for people with chronic health conditions, pregnant women, and older adults. 
  • Adults also should get the Tdap vaccine once, if they did not receive it as a teen, to protect them against whooping cough, and a tetanus/diphtheria booster shot every 10 years. 
  • Young adults, age 19 to 26 years old, also should receive an HPV vaccine if they did not receive it as a teenager.
  • Healthy adults age 50 and older should get a vaccine against shingles, which impacts 1 out of 3 unprotected adults, with the risk increasing as you age.
  • Adults age 65 or older (or those 65 and younger with certain health conditions) should get a pneumonia vaccine, which protects against serious pneumococcal disease, including meningitis and bloodstream infections. The CDC has approved a new and more effective vaccines called Prevnar 20 and PCV 15. Adults previously vaccinated with the Pneumovax 23 or PCV 13 vaccines may want to discuss updating their vaccines with their physician. 

Make sure your children's or your vaccines are up to date by scheduling a visit with a WellSpan provider.