Special thanks to Jeff Goad, PharmD, MPH, Professor and Chair, Chapman University School of Pharmacy, for this guest blog post on the importance of vaccination in honor of Father’s Day.
This Father’s Day, take a minute to ponder how important you are to your family. One day you’re preventing little ones from bumping into sharp edges and then next thing you know, you’re teaching your teen how drive safely. We childproof our houses, install car seats that would rival Formula One roll cages, and buy the safest (and slowest) cars for our teens. We do all of this to help keep them safe. Vaccination is one of the easiest ways to keep them safe when they are young and sometimes, for life.
As a pharmacist, I know the science and practice behind vaccination, but as a father of three, I also know how important vaccines are to keeping my children and those around them healthy. In California, where I live, we had several large pertussis (whooping cough) outbreaks in 2010 and 2014, resulting in infant deaths and hundreds of hospitalizations. Pertussis, however, is a national crisis. You can protect your infant before they are even born by getting pregnant moms vaccinated with Tdap in the early part of the third trimester. And, pregnant moms should also get a flu shot during flu season, in any any trimester.
While studies show that moms tend to more often be in charge of healthcare for their children, fathers are co-parents and as such, need to take an active role. Keeping track of immunization records and going to the pediatrician when they get their shots helps to show mom and baby that dads are actively involved in their child’s health.
What keeps parents of teens up at night? Driving, peer pressure, and sex, among other things! While teens often feel they are too old for the pediatrician and too young for the internist, it’s a perfect time for a little fatherly advice about taking responsibility for their own health. Pre-teens and teens need Tdap, meningococcal, and HPV vaccines. If their busy schedule is making it difficult to see their physician, look into getting them vaccinated at a pharmacy. Pharmacists in all states can give vaccines, but which ones and at which age varies by state. Use Vaccine Finder to help locate available vaccines near you.
Lastly, if you’re going to talk the talk, you also need to walk the walk. Fathers are role models, like it or not. This year, let your kids see you getting your flu shot. As Confucius once said, “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and understand.” After all, you’re teaching them to take care of themselves for life.
Happy Father’s Day! Please share your ideas in the comments below on why you chose to get vaccinated and how you ensure your family is vaccinated.