During World Immunization Week (#getvax), April 24 to 30, Concordia’s Health Services is raising awareness about its Routine Adult Vaccine Program — an important opportunity to give your body a vital boost against everything from measles to shingles, often at little or no cost and in complete confidentiality.
Not sure whether or not to get vaccinated? Here are four points to consider.
1. You may have missed childhood vaccinations
Perhaps your parents chose not to have you vaccinated, or childhood vaccines weren’t always available. And, depending on your birthplace, you may not have been exposed to illnesses like chickenpox.
“Chickenpox in an adult is more severe than it is for children and can result in hospitalization,” says Gabriella Szabo, health promotion specialist. “We can start you on your vaccines from the very beginning, or simply update any that need a booster.”
Students are often due for a tetanus and pertussis booster when they start university. These can be administered in one shot.
2. Viruses like measles, mumps and rubella are still around
While there’s a tendency to think that no one gets illnesses like measles or mumps anymore, those viruses — as well as pertussis (whooping cough) and polio — have not yet been eradicated. In the developed world, these infections are rare precisely because of the vaccines’ effectiveness.
As Szabo notes, however, there have been a number of recent mumps outbreaks at universities, including at Harvard in Massachusetts and at several Midwest colleges in March.
“When you’re sick with measles or the mumps, you are ill and bedridden for many days, which can really affect your work and your ability to fulfill your responsibilities,” says Szabo.
“Pertussis is called the ‘100-day cough.’ Imagine trying to get through term with a body-wracking cough.”
3. The benefits of vaccination far outweigh any potential risks
Vaccines greatly reduce your chance of getting and spreading illness, but they are not 100 per cent effective: you still have to wash your hands, cover your cough, eat well and otherwise keep yourself healthy.
While some people do suffer from side effects, these are usually mild, and far less serious than the infection that the vaccine is preventing.
4. Getting yourself vaccinated gives a boost to the entire community
Whether at work, in class, on the bus or in line at the coffee shop, you regularly come into contact with vulnerable individuals.
“We have a responsibility to people around us who may be immunocompromised,” says Szabo. “People living with HIV or cancer are at greater risk of complications from these illnesses. Further, some vulnerable people, including babies and people with certain medical conditions, cannot safely receive vaccines, so they are counting on community immunity to avoid catching these infections. Updating your vaccines can help you to protect the people you are learning about and working to serve.”
Health Services has clinics on both campuses. For more information about vaccines, and to discuss any questions and concerns, book an appointment with a nurse or health-promotion specialist by calling Health Services at 514-848-2424, ext. 3565.