Keeping up with immunizations during the COVID-19 pandemic

Karen Santucci, MD

Staying up-to-date with childhood and adult vaccinations to keep the body’s immune system strong has become paramount, given the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

That’s the word from Karen Santucci, MD, Greenwich Hospital’s chief medical officer. Dr. Santucci worked as a pediatrician and pediatric emergency medicine physician for Yale New Haven Health before assuming her new hospital post.

“Vaccinations are important across the lifespan, particularly during this unprecedented time with COVID-19,” said Dr. Santucci. “We know that people who are exposed to one infection can become more susceptible to other infections. Our immune systems also tend to naturally weaken over time as we age, putting us at higher risk for certain diseases and infections.”

Dr. Santucci recommends individuals seek preventive and medical care in a timely fashion because any delay can lead to complications and advanced stages of disease. Greenwich Hospital and all of its outpatient facilities and affiliated physician offices have taken precautions to provide a safe environment for patients, visitors and staff.

As the race to supply vaccines to combat COVID-19 intensifies, millions of Americans have already received the seasonal flu shot this year. The flu vaccine can decrease the odds of getting sick and needing hospitalization due to complications. Annual vaccinations are necessary because the flu viruses change each year. Children can receive their first flu vaccine at 6 months. The flu vaccine is especially crucial for the elderly and people with chronic health conditions who are at a higher risk of developing severe complications.

“Speak to your primary care provider about your vaccine schedule,” said Dr. Santucci. “Vaccines are key to maintaining good health.”

Recommended Vaccinations

  • Chickenpox
  • Diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (whooping cough) (DTaP)
  • Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)
  • Hepatitis A (HepA)
  • Hepatitis B (HepB)
  • Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR)
  • Pneumococcal (PCV)
  • Polio (IPV)
  • Rotavirus (RV)
  • Seasonal flu
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Meningococcal conjugate
  • Seasonal flu
  • Tetanus, diphtheria, pertusis (Tdap)
  • Seasonal flu
  • Tdap once if you didn’t get it as a teen, to protect against whooping cough
  • Tetanus, diphtheria (Td) booster every 10 years
  • Zoster (shingles), recommended for adults 50 years and older
Older adults (60 years and older)
  • Seasonal flu
  • Td or Tdap
  • Pneumococcal vaccines, to protect against lung and bloodstream infections
  • Zoster (shingles)
Source: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention