Wednesday, 30 August 2017 14:08

A return to school schedules is a good time to update immunizations

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Many of us have probably spent the last week asking ourselves, ‘where did the summer go?’ It seems like just last week it was the end of June, school had let out, graduation parties were underway and the warmer weather had arrived. Now, here it is, the inevitable return to school, darker evenings and cooler mornings as fall approaches.

In southern Alberta, a pertussis, or more commonly known as whooping cough, outbreak has been ongoing for months.
It was first issued before school children were finished for the summer, and appears to have no conclusion at this time. In fact, it is likely cases may continue to increase as children are once again back into classrooms, sharing spaces, coughs and sneezes.
There have been more than 300 cases of whooping cough detected in just the South Zone inAlberta, and on Aug. 21, officials with Alberta Health Services started offering booster doses of pertussis immunization to children ages 10-12.
The hope is always that the more people who are vaccinated, the better the chances the spread of disease is limited — it’s what’s called herd immunity.
The cost of immunization should never be a barrier, as vaccinations are free to Albertans, but what can build a wall is a lack of communication and understanding.
Health officials have been good at getting the word out about clinics and the importance of protecting children and those with comprised immune systems. School officials will also likely do their part too, once classes are in full swing.
Every person can take do his or her part too to ensure immunizations are up to date for you and everyone in your household. The pertussis vaccine comes in a booster for adults, known as dTap. It’s important to get that booster every 10 years to ensure immunity against, not only pertussis, but also diphtheria and tetanus. That’s right, tetanus — the shot you get at the hospital if you’ve injured yourself by stepping on a rusty nail, etc., that you should be receiving every decade regardless of injury.
With the arrival of fall, it will also be time to consider getting in line for the annual influenza immunizations which usually start up the end of October or in November.
Along with ensuring vaccinations are up to date, prevention of the spread of illnesses really comes down to common sense and courtesy.
Diligent handwashing, covering your nose and mouth when you sneeze and not attending work or school when sick are the main ways to prevent the spread of viruses.
It may seem like an inconvenience to have to stay home when not feeling well and it’s never nice if someone has to take on extra work because of a sick co-worker, but it’s better than the alternative.
When individuals head to the workplace or even school when ill, they simply spread the virus to others, increasing the negative impact.
So be diligent in practising good etiquette as the busy fall season begins.

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Rose Sanchez

Assistant Managing Editor