SIOUX CENTER—One little thing can make a giant difference in a person’s individual, family and community health: Getting immunization shots.

With students going back to school and August being National Immunization Awareness Month, Sioux Center Health said now is a good time to review the importance of vaccines.

“Vaccinations are among the most effective ways to keep your health on track,” said Dr. Alanna Janssen, Sioux Center Health family physician. “They are important because they prevent a lot of diseases that are known to be fatal in kids or could cause lifelong consequences as well.”

Janssen said one single case of the measles can cost about $150,000 to treat per kid to treat.

“If we can give them shots at the appropriate ages to prevent that, it’s a lot cheaper in the long run to immunize your child against something that’s preventable,” she said. “And with illnesses like the flu, when we all get the shot, we’ll all be better off and we’ll be helping those who are more vulnerable like the elderly, babies and those with immune deficiencies stay safe. You’ll be better protected and healthier for the busy school year that’s just around the corner.”

Janssen said it’s important for everyone, no matter their age, to keep immunizations schedules in mind.

Here’s a quick snapshot:

  • Younger children — Babies and preschoolers get a number of immunizations, which are safe and prevent diseases such as chickenpox, polio, measles, mumps and rubella. Kids should also get shots for diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, Haemophilus influenzae type b (HIB), hepatitis A and B according to the recommended schedule, and pneumococcal and rotavirus. Kids and adults need annual flu shots, too.
  • Teens and young adults — Starting around age 11, kids should get their shots for human papillomavirus (HPV), tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (Tdap). Some kids may need a meningitis vaccination, and you should keep annual flu shots on their list, too.
  • The rest of us — Adults who did not have it as kids should get the chickenpox vaccine as well as one for HPV and, of course, annual flu shots. Vaccines for pneumonia and shingles starting around age 60 can help keep these conditions away. Also, tetanus and diphtheria boosters are a good idea for many adults.

Shots are never easy. Kids often dread them, making moms and dads dread them as well.

“Be honest with your kids and tell them it might hurt a little now, but it’ll keep them from getting sick in the long run,” Jannsen said. “It’s a lot less painful to get a flu shot rather that deal with fevers, chills, body aches, vomiting for five to seven days if you get the flu. I think most people might prefer the shot. I know I would.”

Another good approach is to show kids there’s nothing to fear during their immunization appointment.

“Adults can be good examples,” Janssen said. “It’s also important to let the child know they’re getting shots when they come, not let it be a surprise. It can be too much of shock when they get here if they didn’t know that shots are coming. Talk to kids about why they’re getting a shot, that it’s about their long-term health and so that hopefully they won’t have to go to the hospital for preventable diseases in their future.”

Janssen said the United States’ has a vaccine safety program that closely and constantly monitors the safety of vaccines. Data shows that the current U.S. vaccine supply is the safest in history, according to The Center’s For Disease Control and Preventions.

“With anything that individual ingredients, be it a vaccine or something you’re eating, you can look up and find something about an ingredient that says it causes such and such,” Janssen said. “Overall, vaccines are very safe. They go through a process to make sure they’re safe and to take out anything that can cause harm before they’re approved.”

Annual exams and immunizations may be covered 100 percent by most health plans.