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Prevention

Today’s Vaccines Target More Than Flu and COVID

bandaid on arm

From the flu and COVID-19 to chicken pox and polio, vaccines have proven to be some of the best ways for people to take a preventative approach to their health care. Medical experts agree that most issues can be mitigated or even completely avoided if we saw our doctors before we started feeling under the weather.

This season, doctors stress the importance in taking a preemptive strike against illness given the threat of a spike in COVID-19, flu and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) cases, calling it a “tripledemic.”

“There’s no question that regular visits to the doctor [at least annually] have a huge impact on our health,” said Frank Ciminiello, MD, an internal medicine specialist with Northeast Medical Group in Trumbull. “Take vaccines, as an example. We may not be able to completely prevent you from catching the flu, but we can reduce your risk and make it not as bad if you do get it.”

Polio was largely eradicated over 50 years ago and advances in vaccine technology have led to medicines that can prevent diseases like chickenpox or shingles. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that U.S. cases of chickenpox among children have been cut by 97 percent and deaths by 99 percent since the vaccine was introduced in 1995.

“Years ago parents would have chickenpox parties to spread that disease around so their children would get it, get over it and move on,” Dr. Ciminiello said. “We now have a childhood vaccine for chickenpox, so kids don’t have to suffer. However, those kids who had it years ago are now adults and at risk for shingles. Thankfully there is now a vaccine for people 50 and over that prevents over 90 percent of shingles cases.”

Dr. Ciminiello advocates for preventative health care because many diseases such as measles, diphtheria or hepatitis can be avoided or have their severity lessened. He encourages patients to visit their doctor at least once a year to make sure they get the latest information about vaccines and other preventative measures like health screenings.

“There are so many diseases we can vaccinate against, and we’re seeing new medicines being developed all the time,” he said. “When you regularly see your doctor we can ensure that you’re up to date on your vaccines and screenings. I tell my patients that I would much rather see them in my office than find them in the hospital emergency room.”

The CDC’s website at vaccines.gov can help you find flu and COVID-19 vaccine locations:

Schedule an appointment or find a Northeast Medical Group doctor near you.