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A child receiving their vaccine

Protect Your Child with Safe, Effective Immunizations

Vaccines are one of the safest and most effective ways to protect your child’s health. This winter, both children and adults face an increased risk from COVID-19, the flu, and RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus). Staying current on doctor-recommended vaccinations and immunizations will not only keep you and your family safe, but your friends, neighbors, and community as well. 

AltaMed is here to answer your questions about vaccines, including their safety, effectiveness, and which ones to get. 

Why Should I Vaccinate My Child?

Getting your child vaccinated between birth and six years of age protects them from 14 deadly diseases, including measles, mumps, and polio. Vaccinating your child also helps protect people who cannot get vaccinated themselves because they are too young or have certain health problems.

Children are most vulnerable when they are born, and they depend on you to make the right choices to keep them safe. Talk to your doctor about vaccines which you can receive during pregnancy that give your child’s immune system a boost when they are born, such as the RSV or Tdap vaccines

Once your child is born, it is critical to stick to the vaccination schedule provided by your child’s doctor. No matter the age, preventing dangerous diseases outweighs any possible vaccine side effects such as slight pain, swelling, or low-grade fever. These are important steps toward building your child’s immune system during their critical developmental stages.

Routine vaccinations are also needed during the adolescent years. The CDC recommends four vaccines for almost all children ages 9-12: meningococcal, human papillomavirus (HPV), the collective Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis), and influenza (the flu). Meningococcal diseases are rare but are spread by sharing food and drinks or kissing. HPV is a virus that can cause cancer later in life, and is so common that almost everyone will get it at some point. HPV can cause cancer in both men and women and is often transmitted through sex. 

The Tdap vaccine is a booster for the children’s DTaP vaccine, necessary for older children because the effectiveness of the first vaccine wears off over time. Doctors recommend that all children six months and older receive the flu vaccine every year because the flu virus changes each year.

How Safe Are Vaccinations?

The short answer is very.

Most modern childhood vaccinations have been around for about 60 years. They were developed to stop the spread of infectious diseases that once killed thousands of people each year.

Vaccines are constantly re-evaluated and studied by scientists and researchers. Serious reactions to vaccines are rare, occurring only once in every million doses. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Immunization Safety Office, the current vaccine supply in the United States is the safest in history.

Are There Rules or Laws about Vaccines?

The State of California requires all children attending public or private school to receive the doctor-recommended immunizations for vaccine-preventable diseases. This mandatory vaccination helps keep overall immunity levels high and protects the community members, including other school children, who cannot receive vaccinations.

How Can I Prepare My Family for This Fall and Winter?

In 2023, experts anticipate that flu, COVID-19, and RSV infections will surge as people gather and spend more time indoors. Unfortunately, these viruses can cause serious harm for children, including difficulty breathing (sometimes long-lasting), severe lung problems like bronchiolitis or pneumonia, fever, coughing, headaches, nausea, and more. To protect children, the CDC has established new guidelines for vaccination and immunization: 

  • COVID-19 — Anyone six months and older is encouraged to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Most people five years and older only need one dose for strong protection.
  • RSV — Babies 0 to 24 months should be vaccinated during RSV season from October — March.
    • Babies born during RSV season should receive the RSV shot within one week of birth. 
    • Infants under eight months and babies between 8 and 24 months with high-risk conditions can receive a single-dose RSV immunization during RSV season.
    • Pregnant people in their third trimester during RSV season can get an RSV vaccine to protect their newborn babies.
  • Flu — Anyone six months and older is encouraged to get an annual flu vaccine.

At AltaMed, patients six years and older can receive their flu and COVID-19 vaccines in one visit. 

Free Vaccinations at AltaMed

We encourage you to follow your child’s immunizations schedule into adolescence, so your children are protected during every stage of their life. Here at AltaMed, all the vaccinations the CDC recommends are available free of cost! We provide childhood and adolescent immunizations for patients 0-17 years of age.

It’s more important than ever to stay safe and healthy. Call us at (888) 499-9303 to schedule an appointment with your provider to stay on track of your child’s immunization timeline. For information about COVID-19 and RSV, click here.

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See how AltaMed Health Services can help your family grow healthy.

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Protect Yourself from Fall Infections

As the leaves change color and the air turns crisper, it’s only natural to get excited for fall. And while there’s plenty to look forward to, the change in seasons also brings a host of infectious diseases that can threaten our well-being. Protecting yourself and your loved ones from illnesses like the flu, COVID-19, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is important. The good news is that vaccinations, along with simple safety measures, can protect your health and the health of those around you.

Understanding Fall Infections

 

  • Influenza (Flu) — The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, and fatigue. The flu can lead to hospitalization, and even death, particularly in vulnerable populations such as the elderly, children, and individuals with underlying health conditions.
  • COVID-19 — The COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped the world, and the virus continues to affect communities globally. The symptoms of COVID-19 vary widely, from mild respiratory symptoms to severe respiratory distress. Vaccination against COVID-19 is a crucial step in reducing transmission and preventing serious illness and hospitalization.
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus — RSV is a common respiratory virus that can cause mild, cold-like symptoms in adults and older children. However, it can lead to severe respiratory infections in infants and young children, older adults, and people with chronic health conditions. RSV can cause bronchiolitis and pneumonia, requiring hospitalization in some cases.

Why Vaccination Matters

Getting vaccinated against these fall infections is a proactive measure that benefits both individuals and the community at large. Here's why it's crucial:

  • Protection for You — Vaccines provide immunity against diseases, reducing your risk of falling ill and experiencing severe complications. That means you won’t miss the best that fall has to offer.
  • Protection for Others — By getting vaccinated, you contribute to herd immunity. This shields those who cannot be vaccinated due to medical conditions or age, preventing the spread of infections within the community.
  • Prevent Overwhelmed Health Care Systems — Vaccination helps reduce the burden on health care systems, ensuring that hospitals can effectively treat those who require medical attention.

Why The Fall?

The timing of vaccination matters. Experts recommend getting vaccinated against the flu, COVID-19, and RSV in September or October. Here's why:

  • Flu vaccine — The flu typically starts circulating in the fall and peaks during the winter months. By getting vaccinated in September or October, your body has time to build immunity before the flu season hits its peak.
  • COVID-19 vaccine COVID-19 is still a concern, and vaccination remains a primary tool in controlling its spread. By getting vaccinated this fall, (even if you have been vaccinated in the past) will help minimize the risk of contracting or spreading the virus during gatherings or indoor activities.
  • RSV protection — RSV transmission tends to increase during the fall and winter. Vaccinating against RSV before these seasons begin can offer protection to vulnerable populations, particularly infants, young children, and seniors.

Other Safety Methods

Beyond vaccinations, taking simple precautions each day will help you and your family stay protected. Be sure to:

  • Wash your hands, thoroughly — Lather with soap and scrub for at least 20 seconds before rinsing to ensure a proper wash.
  • Carry hand sanitizer — Apply hand sanitizer regularly when running errands. Travel-size containers are available at drug and grocery stores.
  • Isolate when sick — If you or someone you live with shows signs of illness, avoid unnecessary exposure to others. That means rescheduling plans, keeping kids home from school, and delaying errands until symptoms disappear.
  • Wipe down surfaces Use a cleaning spray or alcohol wipe on high-touch items like water bottles, lunch boxes, and handbags.  

We Have Your Back

As fall approaches, prioritize your health and the health of those around you. Vaccination is a key strategy in the fight against infectious diseases. By getting vaccinated in September or October, you're taking an active step toward a healthier and safer season.

All the vaccinations the CDC recommends are available at AltaMed, most at no cost to you.

It’s more important than ever to stay safe and healthy. Call us at (888) 499-9303 to schedule an appointment with your provider and stay on track to prevent these viruses from affecting you and your loved ones.

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Beyfortus

Infants and Seniors Have Options to Protect Against RSV

This fall and winter, communities will have a few new tools to help prevent respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) lower respiratory tract disease. In mid-July, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Beyfortus (nirsevimab-alip), a one-dose immunization for all infants younger than eight months in their first RSV season, and children eight to 24 months of age with certain risk factors. Additionally, single dose RSV vaccines (Arexvy and Abrysvo) were approved for pregnant people and adults aged 60 and over to prevent severe RSV disease and hospitalization.

RSV, which causes acute respiratory infections, can have a significant impact on overall health. While most individuals experience mild symptoms, some, especially infants and seniors, are vulnerable to more dangerous lower respiratory tract diseases like pneumonia and bronchiolitis.

Every year, as many as 80,000 children under 5 years old are hospitalized due to RSV, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For adults aged 65 and older, the CDC estimates that RSV is responsible for 60,000–160,000 hospitalizations and 6,000–10,000 deaths. In 2022, the number of older adults hospitalized with RSV-related health issues was 10 times higher than years prior to 2020.

About Beyfortus

Beyfortus is a laboratory-made protein that mirrors the immune system's ability to combat viruses. It is designed to target RSV. A single shot provides protection during the RSV season, which typically starts in the fall and peaks during winter.

Through a series of clinical trials, Beyfortus reduced the occurrence of RSV. One trial of term and late preterm infants, for example, resulted in a reduced risk of about 75%.

Looking Ahead

With experts predicting a surge in RSV cases this fall, the approval of RSV immunizations marks an important step in protecting infants, young children, pregnant people, and older adults. Immunizations remain a key pillar in safeguarding the health of our communities. These new preventative immunizations offer hope for preventing severe RSV-related complications.

Vaccinations at AltaMed

No matter your age, it’s important to stay protected. From RSV to COVID-19 to yearly flu shots, AltaMed can help you grow healthy. We also provide essential childhood, adolescent immunizations including the HPV vaccine for patients zero to 17 years of age.

Safety shouldn’t be complicated. Call us at (888) 499-9303 to schedule an appointment with your provider and stay on track of necessary vaccines.

Protect Your Child with Safe, Effective Immunizations