NIAM Blog Posts

Vaccinations: Did you know?

by: Lindsay Pluff, Sr. Quality Improvement Facilitator
August 2019

Washing your hands, covering your mouth when you sneeze, healthy diet and exercise are all well-known ways to keep you healthy. Vaccinations are also an incredibly effective way to prevent illness and maintain your health. They are often low or no cost and are (at most) annual, rather than daily, activities. Vaccines benefit the individual and society at large. Below you will find some reasons why being up to date on your vaccines help yourself, your family and the community as a whole.

Vaccinations are one of the best ways to reduce the burden of infectious diseases worldwide.

Vaccinations have been hailed as one of the greatest public health achievements of the 20th century. In fact, only clean water is better at reducing infectious diseases. Vaccinations have eliminated smallpox throughout the world and polio in the United States. They have also helped to reduce the frequency and severity of many diseases. Prior to the introduction of the measles vaccine (MMR), it was generally accepted that every child would be affected at one point. The MMR vaccine is up to 97% effective and routinely given to children beginning at 12 months. Today, it is a rare and noteworthy event for a doctor to ever see a case of measles.

Immunizations are an important tool in programs designed to reduce antibiotic usage.

Antibiotics are a powerful tool to fight bacterial infections, but misuse and overuse of antibiotics can have serious consequences. According to the CDC, antibiotic resistance is one of the most serious public health problems today. Vaccines can help address this problem in a number of ways. Vaccines like the pneumococcal vaccine can stop you from getting a bacterial infection in the first place. An annual flu shot can stop the progression of the flu into a more serious bacterial infection, like pneumonia. Further, many people mistakenly believe that antibiotics are an effective treatment against the flu. The flu is a viral infection and cannot be treated with antibiotics. By protecting yourself against the flu, you are also helping to reduce the misuse of antibiotics.

Vaccines protect against heart attacks as well as routine prevention measures.

Vaccine-preventable illnesses can cause stress and inflammation of the heart and put people at risk of dangerous complications. For example, flu shots can not only help you fight the flu, they can help protect you against heart attacks! People with pre-existing heart conditions are six times as likely to have a heart attack within a week of being diagnosed with the flu (NEJM, 2018). Flu shots have been found to be as effective at reducing the risk of heart attack as the use of statins, blood pressure medication and smoking cessation programs.

Individuals with diabetes are at an increased risk of vaccine-preventable diseases as compared to the general population.

When you have diabetes, your immune system has a harder time fighting off infections. This makes vaccine-preventable diseases even more dangerous. The flu can cause blood glucose levels to rise to an unsafe level, hepatitis B rates are higher among people with diabetes, and people with diabetes are three times more likely to be hospitalized or die from the flu or pneumonia.

Vaccines can help diminish social and economic inequalities.

Vaccines have a wide range of societal benefits on top of individual benefits. Vaccines can keep costs down and improve the efficiency of our health care system. Community immunity, or herd immunity, can keep vulnerable members of the community healthy by making it harder for a vaccine-preventable disease to be spread. On an individual level, vaccines can reduce the burden of illness. By keeping you healthy, vaccines can ensure that you do not miss work, and lose wages or paid time off unnecessarily. They can keep your children in school, and stop you from missing work or arranging child care.  Recommended vaccines are often covered by insurance, or offered at low or no cost.

Get up to date today!

Despite the benefits of vaccination, adult vaccination rates remain low. Talk to you doctor to learn more about your vaccine status and vaccines recommended for you. You can also use the Adult Vaccination Schedule or Adult Vaccine Quiz. Vaccines are easy to find, but Vaccine Finder makes it easier by finding using your location to find nearby vaccination sites. Vaccinations are a safe, effective and easy way to maintain your health. Make sure that you take are up to date on your recommended vaccinations and take advantage of all the benefits vaccines have to offer.


Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle with Diabetes

by: Lindsay Pluff, Sr. Quality Improvement Facilitator
August 2019

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is a goal everyone shares. As we age, adopting healthy behaviors and habits becomes more important. The older we get, the more difficult it becomes for our bodies to handle the everyday stresses we put it through. As a result, we become more susceptible to chronic conditions like heart disease and diabetes. Diabetes is a growing health problem. It affects 1 in 11 Americans and approximately one-third of individuals 65 years or older. While diabetes cannot be cured, it can be managed through lifestyle changes and/or doctor prescribed therapies. These lifestyle changes include staying active and eating well.  One of the simplest ways to maintain a healthy lifestyle is to ensure that you are up to date on your recommended vaccinations. While this is true for everyone, vaccinations are critically important for people with diabetes.

Vaccines Keep You Healthy

People with diabetes have a harder time fighting infection than the general population, putting them at a greater risk of developing serious complications. Luckily, vaccines allow us to prevent a number of diseases!
While influenza, or the flu, can be dangerous for otherwise healthy individuals, it can be deadly for individuals with diabetes. Complications from the flu include pneumonia, inflammation of the heart and can cause your blood sugar to rise to unsafe levels. People with diabetes are three times more likely to be hospitalized for the flu or complications. The best protection is an annual flu shot. Due to the potential complications, people with diabetes are not recommended to receive the nasal spray flu vaccine, and are recommended to receive the injectable flu vaccine instead. While the flu shot cannot guarantee you will not get the flu, it can make you less likely to experience complications and shorten the duration of your illness.
Pneumococcal disease, caused by the bacteria pneumococcus is the leading cause of severe pneumonia. It can also lead to a number of infections including bacteremia (infection of the blood) and meningitis (infection of the brain). People with diabetes are more likely to die from these diseases. There are two vaccines available to protect you: pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13 or Prevnar 13) and the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23 or Pneumovax23). The timing of these vaccines can be complicated, talk to your doctor to ensure you are up to date.
Hepatitis B is a contagious liver disease that can be passed through the body fluids of an infected individual. While some people are able to fight and clear the disease from their body, some people will develop chronic illness.  Hepatitis B rates are higher in the population of people with diabetes than the general population. Outbreaks have been observed due to the nature of blood glucose testing and other diabetes-care equipment. Doctors recommend a hepatitis B vaccination for all people with diabetes under the age of 60. Talk to your doctor to see if this vaccine is recommended for you.

Vaccines Save Money

People with diabetes have health costs that are approximately 2.3 times higher than the average person. By providing protection against vaccine-preventable diseases, vaccines can help keep those costs from increasing. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, most health insurance plans are required to cover a wide range of preventive health services including all recommended vaccinations. If you don’t have insurance, you still have access to free or low cost vaccinations through a federally funded health center or your local or state health department.

Keeping Yourself Healthy

These are just a few of the dangers of vaccine-preventable diseases and the benefits vaccines can provide for people with diabetes. Telligen has a number of resources for people living with diabetes, including offering Diabetes Self-Management Education (DSME) classes. The American Diabetes Association also provides resources for living with diabetes. Unfortunately there are still many people who do not realize that they are at risk.  Approximately 84 million adults have pre-diabetes, and up to 7 million people have diabetes and do not know it. Learn more about your risk of diabetes, the symptoms and strategies for living with diabetes.  You can make sure you are up to date on your immunizations with the Adult Vaccination Schedule, Adult Vaccine Quiz or talk to your doctor today!


Getting to the Heart of Vaccinations

by: Lindsay Pluff, Sr. Quality Improvement Facilitator
August 2019

Vaccinations are an important and easy way to maintain your health. By getting a vaccination you are not only protecting yourself, but you are also protecting those around you. Being up to date on your recommended vaccinations is especially important for adults with chronic health conditions. These underlying diseases can make it more difficult to fight off an illness such as influenza and pneumococcal disease and put you at a higher risk of developing serious complications. This is especially true of individuals with heart disease, stroke or other cardiovascular disease.

Influenza and Heart Disease

Influenza, or the flu, is a respiratory infection that can result in mild to serious illness. Symptoms include fever, chills, fatigue and body aches and can last up to two weeks. The flu virus does not discriminate and can be deadly for otherwise healthy individuals. An individual with a history of heart disease or stroke is more likely to be hospitalized or die from the flu. The flu can cause increased inflammation in your body, changes in your blood pressure and increase stress. When combined with the problems extending from heart disease, the results can be devastating. Researchers have found that individuals with a history of heart disease were six times more likely to have a heart attack within a week of being diagnosed with the flu than they were one year before or after the illness (NEJM, 2018). During the 2017-2018 influenza season, adults with cardiovascular diseases represented 46.3% of influenza related hospitalizations.

Pneumococcal Pneumonia and Heart Disease

One of the serious and potentially deadly complications of influenza is pneumococcal pneumonia. Pneumococcal pneumonia is a serious bacterial lung infection caused by pneumococcus. Symptoms include high fever, shortness of breath, chest pain and disorientation. Serious complications include brain damage, heart attack and death.  In individuals with a prior history of heart disease, the risks are much higher to experience one of these complications.

Vaccines to Keep Your Heart Healthy

Luckily, vaccinations are available to protect you from these illnesses and keep your heart healthy. An annual flu shot has been found to protect against stroke and heart attacks.  In fact, the flu shot has also been found to be as effective in preventing a heart attack as the more well-known prevention methods including: the use of statins, anti-hypertensive medication and smoking cessation.
There are two vaccines that protect against pneumococcal disease: pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13 or Prevnar 13) and the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23 or Pneumovax23). These vaccines are recommended for children under the age of 2, all adults 65 years and older and adults 2-64 years of age with medical conditions including heart disease. The timing and frequency of these vaccines can be complicated and is based on factors such as your age and health. Talk to your doctor to learn more today!

Vaccination status

Knowing your vaccination status is the best way to ensure that you are fully protected. The Adult Vaccination Schedule will tell you which vaccines you should expect based on your age. The CDC‘s Adult Vaccine Quiz can provide you with a more personalized list of recommended vaccines based on your age, job and location. The Vaccine Finder tool can help you find locations where you can receive the recommended vaccinations if you do not have a doctor, or are unable to see them.


Promoting Immunizations to Improve Overall Health

by: Lindsay Pluff, Sr. Quality Improvement Facilitator
August 2019

For many people vaccinations conjure up thoughts of back-to-school and pediatricians’ offices. Much of the immunization messaging focuses on children – and for good reason. Prior to the advent of vaccinations, thousands of children died from illnesses which are rarely heard of today, such as rubella, diphtheria and, measles (CDC, 2017). However, vaccinations are an important part of adult health, too! Adult vaccinations range from boosters that increase the efficacy of childhood vaccinations like Tdap, which covers diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (also known as whooping cough), first time vaccinations like shingles and the pneumococcal vaccines, and the annual flu shot. Each year thousands of adults become ill, are hospitalized and die from illnesses that vaccines can prevent (CDC, 2016). Vaccines are a safe and easy way to maintain your health.

Vaccine – Preventable Illnesses

Vaccinations work by training your immune system to respond to the virus before you are ever exposed. This allows your body to be prepared to fight off these illnesses and keep you from getting sick. By getting a vaccination, you are also keeping your family, friends and community healthy. If you do not get sick, you cannot pass along an illness to someone close to you. Many of these illnesses can be serious and have a huge impact on your day-to-day life. For example, Influenza, or the flu, is a serious respiratory viral infection with symptoms that include fever, chills, chest pain, and muscle and body aches, and can last up to two weeks (CDC, 2018). These illnesses can have serious complications and lead to hospitalization and possibly death. The risk for developing serious complications from these illnesses is increased if you have other health conditions, such as diabetes, heart or lung disease. The flu or pneumonia can also put strain on your heart and increase your risk of a heart attack or stroke. While the flu shot may not stop you from getting the flu entirely, the flu shot is associated with shorter illness, and a lower risk of developing complications, hospitalization, and death (CDC, 2016).

The Benefits of Being Healthy

Getting sick is inconvenient. You may miss work, losing out on wages or paid time off. Your daily activities of living and your social life can be affected. Consider how much of your life you could miss out on if you are sick with the flu for two weeks! Staying healthy can also keep you healthy in a number of ways. For example, it can ensure that you do not aggravate pre-existing conditions and can keep you from being exposed to other illnesses in a doctor’s waiting room.

Knowledge is power!

Knowing your vaccination status is the best way to ensure that you are on track and receiving all your recommended vaccinations. You can check the Adult Vaccination Schedule to get a sense of which vaccines may be right for you. The CDC‘s Adult Vaccine Quiz can provide you with a list of recommended vaccines based on your age, job, and location. Talk to your doctor and discuss which vaccines are recommended for you. Finally, the Vaccine Finder tool can help you find locations to receive these vaccinations near you! An apple is one way to keep the doctor away, vaccinations are another!

References:
https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vac-gen/whatifstop.htm
https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/adults/reasons-to-vaccinate.html


 

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I Choose to Vaccinate Because…

Whether you’re a primary care physician, nurse, pharmacist, or other health care professional, you play a significant role in helping protect your patients against influenza. To help our collaborative members communicate with patients and encourage vaccinations, Telligen has created a video and accompanying brochure for you to use this flu season. Video: This free video can …

NIAM Social Media Toolkit

National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM) is an annual observance held in August to highlight the importance of vaccinations for people of all ages. Communities across the country use the month each year to raise awareness about the important role vaccines play in preventing serious, sometimes deadly, diseases across the lifespan. Telligen has created a social …

National Immunizations Awareness Month Resources

National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM) NIAM is an annual observance held in August to highlight the importance of vaccination for people of all ages. Communities across the country use the month each year to raise awareness about the important role vaccines play in preventing serious, sometimes deadly, diseases across the lifespan. For more information on …

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