It is always better to prevent a disease than to treat it after it occurs. A piece of common sense advice from the CDC website reminds the public not to skip on scheduled immunizations and boosters.

It is important to continue to protect yourselves and your family from vaccine-preventable diseases such as Measles, whopping cough, flu, polio, pneumococcal disease, tetanus, meningococcal disease, hep B, mumps, hib (haemophilus influenzae type B), and shingles. Children and adults are at risk if these are skipped.

According to the CDC, thanks to the smallpox vaccine, one of the most terrible diseases in history no longer exists (outside of the laboratory). In the case of smallpox, immunity was built in the population once a vaccine was created and administered throughout the world. In May of 1980, the World Health Assembly declared the world free of smallpox.

Before vaccines, the only way to gain immunity from a disease was to become sick with it. Once infected, the body begins to produce antibodies designed to fight it (which takes time). However, the body can “remember” that antigen, so if the person becomes sick again the immune system can produce the antibodies fast enough to keep it from causing the disease a second time. This protection is called immunity.

The purpose of a vaccine today is to provide that immunity without the body ever having to get sick with the disease in the first place. A vaccine contains the same antigens (or parts of antigens) that cause the disease. The antigens in the vaccines are either killed or weakened to the point that they cannot cause the disease, but strong enough for the body’s immune system to produce the necessary antibodies to lead to immunity.

Many people are hesitant during this time of COVID-19 to visit clinics and medical facilities, but it is not advised to delay necessary treatments and visits, especially those for vaccination. Rest assured, Mille Lacs Health System is taking every necessary precaution to serve all of our patients and their varying needs.

“MLHS does not have a disruption in vaccines during this time and is still scheduling appointments for routine vaccinations,” said Vicki Engmark, MLHS infection preventionist. “If we do not continue to vaccinate for the preventable diseases, we can have outbreaks of these diseases on top of the COVID-19 outbreak.”

It is especially important to keep young infants and senior citizens who are both considered high risk due to their weaker immune systems current on their immunizations.

To schedule your immunization appointment call the MLHS scheduling line at (320) 532-3154.

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