From ALLtech medical provider Regence BlueShield
Thousands of people in the U.S. become severely ill and are hospitalized or even die each year because of vaccine-preventable diseases. Vaccines have saved lives from polio, measles, mumps, rubella, flu and now COVID-19. At times, vaccines have helped to remove disease from areas that have high vaccination rates.
In 2000, measles was declared eliminated in the United States. However, in December 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 1,276 cases in 31 states. So how did measles make a comeback?
Most cases where vaccine-preventable disease re-emerges involve unvaccinated people. It’s also important to remember that measles and other diseases are still common in other countries. This makes it easy for unvaccinated travelers to become infected with preventable disease and bring it back to the U.S. And as the number of unvaccinated people increases, the virus is more likely to spread to others and cause infections.
“Immunizations play such an important role in protecting our health as well as the health of our loved ones and communities,” says Dr. Drew Oliveira, senior executive medical director at Regence. “National Immunization Awareness Month is a great time to highlight the value of getting recommended vaccines. You have the power to protect yourself and your family against serious vaccine preventable diseases like measles, the flu, whooping cough, hepatitis, and cancers caused by HPV.”
Vaccines aren’t just for young children. Adults also need vaccines to protect against different types of pneumonia and shingles. And adults with certain health conditions like diabetes are more susceptible to severe complications from certain vaccine-preventable diseases. By getting recommended vaccines during pregnancy, women can give their babies and themselves the best protection against whooping cough and the flu.
Specific immunizations are recommended for young adults and teens entering middle school and college, anyone who may be traveling abroad, and those with underlying health conditions. The CDC provides immunization schedules for all age groups on their website.
If you have school-age children, Oliveira recommends scheduling an appointment for their vaccinations as soon as possible to ensure they get all their recommended doses before school starts. “This is the month where we see the biggest delay in being able to schedule an appointment,” says Oliveira. “We encourage everyone, including adults that may not be aware they need vaccines, to have a conversation with their health care provider now to ensure they’re up to date on all routine vaccines”
Regence health plans cover most immunizations at 100% when members use an in-network provider. ALLtech members enrolled in Regence BlueShield can use the online Find a Doctor tool at regence.com to find a doctor or clinic. Be sure to sign in to your account so results are based on your benefits.