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Local doctor recommends up-to-date immunizations ahead of this fall

FILE - Medical personnel vaccinate students at a school in New Orleans on Jan. 25, 2022. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory committee on Thursday, Oct. 20, 2022 voted that the agency should update its recommended immunization schedules to add the COVID-19 vaccine, including to the schedule for children. (AP Photo/Ted Jackson, File)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Health experts are urging people to prioritize staying up-to-date with their immunizations, not only for COVID-19 but other standard vaccinations.

News 8 spoke with Dr. Eric Yancy, a pediatrician, and MHS Medical Director, on recommendations for the public.

Yancy shared the importance of maintaining routine vaccinations, especially now that schools have reopened and the transition from outdoor to indoor environments can spread germs. He also mentioned the potential for a rise in COVID-19 and flu cases as people spend more time indoors.

The state health department has already observed a slow uptick in emergency room visits due to diagnoses of COVID-19. This fall, three vaccines will be available to fight major respiratory threats: an updated COVID-19 vaccine, the annual flu shot, and two respiratory syncytial virus vaccines.

Yancy draws a parallel between immunizations and a training camp for the body, explaining that they prepare the immune system to combat viruses before they can cause severe illness.

“The immunizations actually act like the body’s training camp. So you set yourself up to fight these things that come in before they can make you very sick. Yeah, you can develop immunity after you get ill with it. But the problem is too many people die when they get it and don’t get a chance to make immunity. So the immunizations are there to act like the body’s training camp to get them ready for the actual assault of these viruses and get you very ready. The scouting reports and everything’s there, so we can keep everybody as healthy as possible,” he said.

While a new COVID-19 vaccine is in production, health officials are awaiting U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval and use guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, vaccines are not the sole means of preventing illnesses. Yancy emphasizes the importance of staying home when sick, wearing masks for 10 days if exposed to COVID-19, practicing frequent handwashing, and using one’s forearm to cover the mouth when coughing or sneezing.

Yancy also advised to consult with a primary care doctor if there needs to be more certainty about the most suitable vaccinations.