Vaccinations 101 for Healthcare Administrators

Vaccines show up in the news from time to time — reminders to get them, concerns about their safety, questions about who should be first in line at the clinic. Healthcare administrators are likely to work in hospitals or other managed care facilities where staying up-to-date on vaccinations is a must. Here’s the 101 on what you might want to know about patient immunizations in your institution.

thermometer-temperature-fever-flu_400Childhood and elderly vaccinations

While each state in the U.S. is different, some require children to be vaccinated before they can attend school. In fact vaccines may be required throughout different time periods in a child’s life. Newborns are typically given many shots for 14 diseases that are known to be serious or life threatening at that age. Later, when a child reaches adolescence and teenage years, vaccinations such as HPV and Tdap become important as well.

Elderly individuals are frequent targets of vaccine campaigns. It’s fairly common to hear talk about the flu shot in particular and how important it is for older people to get theirs yearly. The CDC recommends that all individuals over the age of 6 months get a regular flu shot, and people who are age 50 or older are one of the prioritized groups. Those who live in nursing homes are also at heightened need.

Adults need vaccines too

Just because someone doesn’t fall into the category of either child or elderly individual, that doesn’t mean he or she should ignore alerts and conversation about vaccines. Many adults have children or elderly family members and friends, so getting a vaccination could be for a loved one’s sake rather than that of the other person. While most children in the U.S. do end up getting their vaccinations, there are millions of adults who decide not to get recommended shots. This gap in adult vaccination might be responsible for up to 50,000 preventable deaths a year.

Which vaccines the average adult needs is tricky to say. The answer can depend on factors such as how often the individual travels, how old he or she is, or even what profession he or she works in. When patients have a hard time knowing what vaccinations they should get or if they don’t have health insurance, attending a health department clinic or local pharmacy can often be a good starting place.

Controversy over vaccinations

Some parents and other adults aren’t quite convinced that they should be giving their kids too many vaccines or getting them for themselves. There are questions, for instance, about whether the type of disease immunity granted after being vaccinated might be less powerful than immunity gained by the body encountering disease naturally. While this may be true in cases, it’s also true that natural encounters are more likely to lead to death for a number of illnesses, and that epidemics of disease are often prevented through mass vaccination.

One of the big vaccination specters over the years has been that of autism risk. A study from years ago alleged a connection between vaccines and autism that led many parents to great concern. However, it is important to note that the original study has since been retracted and that research since then has not been able to corroborate any such connection.

In sum, vaccines are a common and highly recommended part of most individual’s lives. Understanding what patients are hearing and thinking about on the subject of vaccination makes for a more informed healthcare administration staff.