With the ongoing media reporting and coverage of all things COVID-19, we are frequently hearing the latest progress reports from the pharmaceutical industry regarding their efforts to create a new vaccine in hopes of bringing an end to the COVID-19 virus.

With August recognized as National Immunization Awareness Month, it makes it an ideal time to speak to your healthcare provider about any vaccinations needed to help keep you and your family safe.

National Immunization Awareness Month is an annual observance held to call attention to the importance of immunizations for everyone, from infants to the elderly, to become up to date on vaccinations.

Many parents are enrolling their youngsters in elementary, junior high, even high school and/ or college; while older adults and the healthcare community are in the process of preparing for the sometimes lengthy influenza season, making it a great time to discuss preventative healthcare.

Immunizations of all types are required for the public to remain healthy and free of disease. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, vaccinations are responsible for the control of countless infectious diseases formerly prevalent in our country. Luckily, due to expansive researchers, medical experts, scientists, and pharmaceutical companies, vaccines have reduced, and in some cases, eliminated many diseases which routinely killed and/or harmed hundreds of thousands of infants, children, and adults.

According to Medicine. net, by maintaining high immunization rates in communities across the U.S., these steps protect the masses by obstructing the transmission of diseasecausing bacteria and/or viruses.

By becoming immunized, we essentially help reduce the risk to which unimmunized individuals are exposed to disease-causing agents. Known as herd immunity, embodying the concept of protecting people with safe, effective vaccines can help protect those who cannot be immunized for whatever reason, including medical and/or financial.

All in all, it means everyone who has the appropriate resources to be up to date on their vaccinations, should do so.

So, for our community residents needing immunizations, what options are available in Osceola County? Besides the Health Department, which offers routine immunizations, the Osceola Council on Aging also manages a health clinic which offers vaccinations.

The Council’s Health Clinic was implemented 22 years ago. Over the years, grants from Heart of Florida United Way, the Department of Elder Affairs, Florida Blue, Advent Health and the U.S. Department of Human Services have supported our expansion.

Today, the clinic provides a wide offering of healthcare services, including acute and chronic, non-emergency services, comparable to most private practice doctor’s offices, and diagnostic testing.

Patients can easily discuss the need for immunizations such as influenza, pneumonia, the shingles vaccine and Tdap boosters to protect against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis.

Presently, our clinic staff is working with Prescription Unlimited to prepare for our vaccination program services for the upcoming winter season.

This program will ensure our health clinic patients have access to the influenza and pneumonia vaccinations.

In addition, the council will host an annual influenza and pneumonia vaccine event this fall, providing immunization support for more than 300 Osceola County seniors from our Senior Dining and Adult Day Health Care programs.

For those in need of immunizations and/or Health Clinic services, call 407-483-0021, or 407-846-8532, Ext. 1261, for more information.

Primary care services are offered on Monday and Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., with specialty services dependent on the availability of the volunteering physician. Though important to note, as with most social service programs, certain requirements and criteria must be met to qualify for healthcare services within our Clinic.

Preliminary requirements include having a residence in Osceola County; being uninsured while also meeting federal poverty income guidelines.

Finally, for those unsure of the need for immunizations, according to the National Institutes of Health, vaccinations also help stimulate our immune systems to produce immune responses to protect against infection, while providing a safe, cost effective means of preventing illness, disability, and death from infectious diseases.

So, remember to talk to your healthcare provider about needed vaccinations, not only to keep your family safe and healthy, but all those individuals around you, safe and healthy.

To see more guest columns by Wendy, go to https://osceolagenerations.org/councils-corner/

Published Wednesday, August 5, 2021