Now is a good time to make sure you and your family are as protected as possible from several diseases — not just the flu and COVID-19.
Because new variants of the flu, COVID-19 and other diseases continue to show up in communities, it’s good to make sure you and your family have received all recommended immunizations.
Remembering a time before vaccines
Diphtheria, measles, mumps, whooping cough and other serious illnesses aren’t as common as they once were because immunizations helped millions of Americans avoid them.
Lessli Putney, MD, FAAP, a PeaceHealth pediatrician in Bellingham, Washington, knows well how terrible some of these diseases were (and still are).
Early in her career, before some current vaccines became available, she saw sick babies in her care develop hearing loss and seizure disorders due to infections now largely prevented by vaccines. The experience made her passionate about the power of immunizations.
“Because families don’t personally know someone affected by an illness, there’s a perception now that we are no longer at risk. But those infections we vaccinate against have not gone away,” Dr. Putney said, “The only way to protect everyone is to follow the recommended immunization schedule.”
The pandemic prevented some of us from getting routine shots and screenings. That has put our communities at greater risk of getting sick.
Now is the time to strengthen your immunity and defend yourself from all kinds of diseases — especially those easily prevented by vaccinations. Here’s how.
Look at your vaccination records
If you’re all caught up, that’s great — you’ve done your part to protect yourself and those around you. To stay on track in the future, take note of when your next recommended shot is due or ask your primary care provider to send a reminder.
If you don’t know what you or your family need, see if you can find your vaccination records — either on paper or online.
- Do you have a paper copy in your wallet, purse, medical care folder or school binder? It’s great to have a hard copy for reference when you don’t have access to a computer.
- You can also look in the patient portal offered by many healthcare providers. If you see a PeaceHealth provider, you can log in to My PeaceHealth. Look under “immunizations” for the record of shots for yourself or your child.
- Your drug store might also be a source of information if that's where you or your family received any vaccinations.
If you have trouble verifying what shots you or other members of your family have received, read tips on finding vaccination records.
Book a vaccine appointment
Talk with your primary care provider about shots recommended for you or your family. PeaceHealth providers follow CDC immunization schedules, keeping in mind each individual patient’s health history, allergies and risk factors.
You might wonder what immunizations are required. This largely depends on your activities. You’ll want to become familiar with policies or requirements by your family’s school(s), workplaces, travel companies (airlines, cruise lines) or organizations where you volunteer or spend time.
Finally, if you plan to travel outside the U.S., let your provider know. They can recommend vaccines for illnesses that are common in the place you’re visiting.
PeaceHealth clinics usually have vaccines on hand. You can schedule an appointment to receive your shots or ask if immunizations can be included in a regular checkup for yourself or a family member.
Local pharmacies are another convenient option. Many stores offer walk-in service for a variety of shots. If you choose this route, send your primary care provider a note via My PeaceHealth or ask the pharmacy to share with your clinic details to note in your medical record.