They say that prevention is the best medicine, so vaccines must be the best medicine ever. Vaccination programs are often regarded as some of the greatest public health achievements of all time and have saved countless lives from diseases like smallpox and polio.
Vaccines have also become a bit controversial, especially over the past couple of years. There can be a lot of misinformation out there, but vaccines remain an important tool for staying healthy. They also help protect our friends, family, and neighbors. Let’s talk about the most important vaccines for people living with COPD.
This is one of the most important shots you can get to protect yourself. There are now four different kinds on the market. They protect against between 13 and 23 different strains of the pneumococcus bacteria that cause many types of pneumonia. Depending on which vaccine (if any) you have had in the past, you may be all done, or you may need to get one more. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a reference sheet to help you and your health care professional decide which pneumonia shot is best for you.
Influenza (Flu) Shots
Another very important vaccine is the annual “flu shot.” The CDC estimates that hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalized by the flu every year. However, many more hospitalizations are prevented by flu shots. Unfortunately, only about half of the adults in the United States get their flu shots. One of the most common reasons is unfounded rumors that a certain year’s shot “doesn’t work.” While it is true that scientists do not always get the year’s most common strains right, some protection is always better than no protection. If you get sick and you have had your flu shot, you will probably be less sick than if you went without. It is also important to remember that you cannot get the flu from the flu shot.
The two most common COVID-19 shots in the US are called mRNA vaccines. They represent the next generation of vaccine science. Since they were developed more quickly than vaccines in the past, many people are concerned about how they work. Let us put those concerns to rest. While these mRNA vaccines are brand new, the science used to create them is very well-established and has been used by scientists for a long time. Believe it or not, the first mRNA vaccine was developed in the 1990s. However, we did not yet have the technology to get the mRNA molecules into cells outside of laboratory conditions. That technology is a 21st-century gift that has allowed us to quickly develop and test these new vaccines. There have now been many millions of doses of these COVID-19 shots given around the world, establishing them as safe and very effective.
Even though we are still in summer, flu season is not far off. Will you get your flu shot? What other concerns do you have about vaccines? Let us know in the comments!