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Protect your health with routine immunizations

Jan./Feb. 2011 California Country magazine




Sam Cole

In our age of portable hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes, many of us have a false sense of security when it comes to immunizations and their prevention of life-threatening disease.

Despite advances in the fight against vaccine-preventable disease, it is vital that we stay on a routine immunization schedule to protect our families and communities against potential outbreaks.

Pertussis (whooping cough)
This contagious disease comes on like the common cold, with symptoms developing into severe and violent coughing that can last for weeks. While extremely dangerous for infants, pertussis also affects adolescents and adults, who pass the bacteria to family through close contact.

Public health officials worry a lack of vaccination diligence is to blame for the now-epidemic number of pertussis cases reported in California this past year. If you suspect you or a family member may have pertussis, see your doctor immediately. Symptoms may include:

  • Rapid coughing fits (with a high-pitched "whoop" in infants)
  • Vomiting after coughing fits
  • Exhaustion
  • Apnea—a pause in breathing (in infants).

Why get vaccinated?

  • Safety and effectiveness: Vaccines continue to offer one of the safest medical product options in preventing serious illness from vaccine-preventable diseases.
  • Vaccine-preventable diseases still pose substantial health risks: Annually, vaccine-preventable diseases kill more Americans than breast cancer, HIV/AIDS or traffic accidents.*
  • Don't be a carrier: Many unvaccinated adults and adolescents become carriers of the bacteria, exposing family and friends to potentially life-threatening illness.
  • Without routine vaccinations, you may be at risk: A regular immunization schedule is as much a part of your health and wellness routine as diet and exercise.

Benefit from Health Net
Health Net provides a list of immunization guides on our website, at www.healthnet.com. Talk with your doctor about what immunizations are currently recommended for you and your family members.

You can also find the most current immunization schedules (for all ages) on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Visit www.cdc.gov/vaccines and look under "Immunization Schedules."

For more information about the California Farm Bureau Members' Health Insurance Plan through Health Net Life Insurance Co., call 800-839-2172. Or, visit the Health Net website at www.healthnet.com.

* "New Data Show Unacceptably Low Adult Immunization Rates and That Adults Unaware of Infectious Disease Threat." PR Newswire website. www.co.washington.wi.us. (Sept. 29, 2010)

Sam Cole is a regional vice president for Health Net of California Inc.


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