Have you heard about the “Herd”?

Ranchers understand the concept of ‘herd immunity’: Immunize the majority of the herd, to protect the entire herd.  The same disease concept applies to us: a highly vaccinated population protects everyone.

To help keep our local community safe, Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association is proudly participating in National Immunization Awareness Month.

The whooping cough epidemic in Washington State (with over 3,000 cases reported, according to the CDC) offers some important public health lessons. According to a recent AP survey, 7 percent of parents choose to exempt their Colorado kindergarteners from required immunizations in 2010-11, while Washington’s exemption rate was lower at 6 percent.  This same epidemic could happen here. Pertussis or ‘whooping cough’ is a very contagious disease easily passed from person to person. It can be serious, even fatal, for babies and can cause them to cough so much that they can’t breathe. It’s necessary for all ages to be vaccinated against Pertussis to stop transmission, since infants may be too young to be immunized.

Everyone age 6 months and older needs a seasonal flu shot to protect themselves and others against Influenza, a disease which kills an average of 36,000 people in the U.S. every year.  Protecting the most vulnerable in our community, our youngest and oldest, may require shots at certain ages. Here are some general guidelines:

• Children need a series of shots from birth to age 6.
• Pre-teens need recommended shots at age 11 or 12.
• All adults need a tetanus booster shot every 10 years.

We are all part of the ‘herd’ in the face of disease. By getting immunized, we protect ourselves and others

Drop in clinics are held in our Craig office on Thursdays from 2:30pm-4:30pm and in our Steamboat Springs office on Thursdays from 9:00am to 4:00 pm. Immunizations are always available by appointment.

Vaccines are our most effective public health tool against pertussis, measles, diphtheria, rubella and other diseases. People in the U.S. still become seriously ill, even die, from vaccine-preventable diseases. It’s important to talk to your health care provider or call us today to find out which immunizations you and your family need. For more information, visit www.blog.northwestcoloradohealth.org.

Frannie Johnson, RN
Jacque Malley, RN
Janice Poirot, RN
Toni Rietveld, RN
Beth Watson, RN
Diane Miller, RN
Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association Public Health

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