Effective Preventive Medicine Includes Getting Timely Vaccines – Here’s Why
Dr. Raul Diaz de Leon is a family medicine physician at South Texas Health System® Clinics who provides a wide range of services to help keep patients and their families healthy. He recognizes the vital role preventive medicine can play in maintaining good health. “It’s important to take charge of your health before issues arise,” he says. “Yearly checkups are the ideal time to talk about things like preventive services and recommended screenings. It’s also an important time to make sure patients are up to date on their recommended vaccines.” Below, Dr. Diaz de Leon answers some frequently asked questions about vaccines.
Q. Why is it important to be vaccinated?
A. Routine vaccines are so good at preventing disease that we have started to take them for granted. Because vaccines have been saving lives for more than 100 years, it can be easy for patients to develop a false sense of security around illnesses that seem to have been eradicated. They may think they don’t need the protections that vaccines can provide. If everyone were to take that attitude, the risk of exposure would increase substantially.
There is also a lot of misinformation surrounding vaccines. If the lack of good information results in fewer people getting vaccines, there is likely to be a further resurgence of certain illnesses, including those that carry the potential for lifelong complications or worse. It’s also important to know that the protections offered by some vaccines can fade over time. That’s when additional vaccine doses, or boosters, are recommended. Annual wellness checks are a key time to review a patient’s vaccine status and bring them current on any needed immunizations.
Q. What are the most important vaccinations for children and why?
A. The schedule published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics is a well-founded list of vaccinations. It gives time intervals to maximize the benefit and early protection to children from deadly and life-altering diseases.
Q. If a patient, or their child, is not current on vaccines, what should they know/do?
A. You should talk to your physician about a “catch-up” schedule. The CDC gives guidance on which immunizations are safe to be administered at the same time, a priority level, and timeline.
Q. Isn’t natural immunity better than getting a vaccination?
A. The illnesses that we vaccinate against can be serious or life-threatening. The complications can also cause long-term, disabling side effects including, but not limited to, death, infertility, blindness, deafness, neurological problems, and a long list of other issues. It is much safer to be immunized than risk these potential problems.
Q. Haven’t a lot of the diseases we vaccinate for been eradicated?
A. Some diseases like smallpox have been eradicated through vaccinations. However, we are seeing the reemergence of some vaccine-preventable diseases due to “anti-vax” campaigns. One illustration would be the increasing number of measles cases. The nation went from one to two cases or less a year, to multiple outbreaks due at least in part to parents refusing vaccinations.
In addition to annual wellness visits, Dr. Diaz de Leon provides a wide range of services, including:
• Chronic disease management
• Follow-up care after hospital stays
• Physicals (annuals, school, sports)
• Preventive medicine including recommended screenings
• Smoking cessation
• Texas Health Steps (children’s annual physicals)
Dr. Diaz de Leon is a family medicine physician who has chosen to stay in South Texas and serve the people of the local community. He received his medical degree from UT Health San Antonio Long School of Medicine and completed his family medicine residency at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley at Doctors Hospital at Renaissance in McAllen. He offers easy access to the care you and your family need.
Raul Diaz de Leon, MD
7900 N. 10th St. | Suite A | McAllen, TX 78504
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