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Vaccinations are Safe and Effective Forms of Prevention

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Vaccinations are Safe and Effective Forms of Prevention

The overall health and well-being of the United States is bigger than each individual. The choices we make for our individual health and that of our immediate family can affect the entire population. Vaccinations play an important role in public health, as they are some of the safest and most primary forms of prevention available. Michele A. Kettles, MD, MSPH, Chief Medical Officer at Cooper Clinic, explains the important role of vaccinations in the realm of public health.

Vaccinations and Public Health

Vaccinations have been a hot topic in recent years due to controversial findings linking vaccinations to autism in children. According to Dr. Kettles, the doctor who put this theory forward was found to have made up the data, and his study has since been removed from medical journals. “Right now, we’re trying to educate the public about the safety of vaccines,” says Dr. Kettles. “They are one of the safest things we do in medicine, which is evident in the fact that we are comfortable giving babies vaccines during the first few days of their lives.”

“Vaccination is primary prevention – it is something we can do to prevent disease from occurring on the front line,” notes Dr. Kettles. This idea aligns perfectly with the mission of Cooper, as Cooper Clinic was founded on the principle of prevention 45 years ago.

Common Vaccinations

Shingles Vaccine (for ages 60+)

People who had chicken pox during childhood are at risk for shingles as they age. Shingles is a painful blistering rash on the body that eventually goes away, but leaves some people with chronic pain. The shingles vaccination is used to prevent both the rash and the lingering pain.

“Unfortunately, the current shingles vaccine is not designed to last a lifetime and starts to wear off right at the time when people begin having a higher risk for developing shingles,” explains Dr. Kettles. “However, a new vaccine is in development that should last much longer and will be safe to give to those who are unable to get the current vaccine due to interference from other medications.” Be on the lookout for the new shingles vaccine in the next couple of years, but if you are 60 years or older, Dr. Kettles recommends going ahead and getting the current vaccination.

Hepatitis B Vaccine (for all ages)

The hepatitis B vaccination is one babies receive on their first day of life and is part of a three-shot series. Many adults were not offered this vaccination because it was not developed when they were children, but Dr. Kettles recommends getting it, especially if they are active travelers. “Hepatitis B is spread through bodily fluids, which is why we used to only vaccinate health care professionals,” she says. “However, the disease is also spread sexually, and in an effort to attempt the eradication of the disease, vaccinating everyone for Hepatitis B has become the norm.”

Pneumonia Vaccines

Many adults have received the Pneumovax vaccine to prevent the onset of pneumonia. Though this vaccine is effective, a new vaccination called Prevnar 13 has been introduced recently to prevent pneumonia. “Pneumovax and Prevnar both prevent pneumonia from encapsulated bacteria,” explains Dr. Kettles. The two vaccines cover a spectrum of these bacteria. Both vaccines are needed for best coverage, but must be given at least a year apart, preferably Prevnar is given first. Due to certain conditions (COPD, asthma, absence of spleen), some people receive these vaccines in young adulthood, but others may not need to start pneumonia vaccines until age 65.  


Tetanus/diphtheria (Td) is needed every 10 years.  One of these boosters as an adult should be a tetanus/diphtheria/acellular pertussis (Tdap).  The Tdap booster helps to ensure lifelong protection against pertussis (whooping cough), which has been on the rise in the U.S.  Boosting adults for pertussis helps to protect the most vulnerable in our population, infants.

Keeping Up With Your Vaccinations

It’s important to keep track of your vaccinations, and your annual physical exam can be a great time to discuss them with your physician and check in on any new vaccination developments. If you’re unsure about which vaccines you’ve received, talk to your doctor. They may perform a blood test that can tell which vaccinations you’ve had over the years (such as hepatitis), and which ones you may need.

If you frequently travel to areas where specific vaccinations are required, you may be issued a yellow vaccination card, which can keep all your vaccination records in one place. Both physicians and patients can use the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Travelers’ Website to find out which vaccinations may be needed prior to traveling to another country.

“Cooper Clinic is a huge proponent for vaccinations because they are the foundation for prevention,” says Dr. Kettles. Cooper Clinic physicians review vaccination records as a part of the preventive exam, and patients are encouraged to bring their records to each appointment in order to stay up-to-date. For more information about Cooper Clinic’s comprehensive preventive exam, visit or call 972.560.2667. 

Article provided by Cooper Aerobics Marketing and Communications.