Protect Those Who Can’t Get Vaccinated: A Holiday Season Guide

 

ChristmasThe holidays are coming up, and that means reconnecting with family and friends—and meeting new family members (newborns anyone?). Some of those loved ones might not be eligible for the Center for Disease Control’s full vaccination schedule: infants, pregnant women, and immunocompromised individuals are all encouraged to refrain from certain vaccinations. The same is true for individuals allergic to ingredients found in certain vaccinations.

If you can receive vaccinations, it’s vital you’re up to date on the CDC’s full schedule this holidays season. Missed all or most of your immunizations? Check out our guide to catching up. Just want to double check? Talk to a healthcare professional‚start by asking about these five shots.

Flu Shot
The CDC recommends everyone six months or older get a flu shot, and that’s never more important than during the holidays. Infants, pregnant women and immunocompromised individuals are all at a greater risk for severe complications from the flu. Yes, those are the same groups that are likely to be ineligible for certain vaccines—be sure to get your shot before the turkey’s carved.

Tdap
This vaccine protects against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough), and the CDC recommends it for everyone. Even if you were vaccinated as a child, you should receive at least one dose of Tdap after age 18 for pertussis, and then a tetanus booster every 10 years. Whooping cough can be fatal to infants, so make sure you’re protected before meeting your cousin’s new bundle of joy. You need to get Tdap even if you got whooping cough or the whooping cough vaccine as a child, because your immunity dwindles over time.

Pneumococcal
Grandma and grandpa, this one’s for you. The elderly and infants are the most vulnerable to Pneumococcal disease, which can lead to ear infections, pneumonia and meningitis. Your new granddaughter might not be able to get the shot yet, but you can; the CDC recommends the immunization for anyone 65 or older.

Shingles
This is another disease that the elderly is at risk for. Shingles starts with a painful rash, often on the face or torso. The rash forms blisters that take weeks to fully clear up—the pain can stick around for months. Again, it’s the grandparents’ job to make sure everyone is protected.

HPV
The holidays aren’t just for family: There’s plenty of time for friends…and more than friends. Human Papilloma Virus is a sexually-transmitted virus that can cause cancers in both men and women. It’s best to get vaccinated at age 11-12, long before you’re even thinking about becoming sexually active, but you can get the vaccine up to age 26. If you’re under 26 and haven’t been vaccinated against HPV, ask your doctor about this vaccine ASAP. 

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