On a flight to China last year, I was awoken by a flight attendant who requested I look at a passenger who apparently had become ill 8 hours into our 12 hour flight. The “patient” was a 12 year old young girl traveling with her mother, neither spoke English. A flight attendant acted as my interpreter.

The only clear story I could get from the translation was the concern of the mother that her daughter had a fever. Trying to confirm that the only concern of the mother was a fever, I was a bit animated in my attempt to confirm the only concern was that her daughter had a fever. When the word fever was spoken loudly, several of the passengers near by got out of their seats and moved away. Remember, this was the season of H1N1. I realized I now had more to deal with than the “ill patient”.

At that time, the nation seemed to be on the brink of a vaccine crisis for the H1N1 condition. Production delays led to shortages, people were confused about who needed that vaccine as well as the regular annual flu shots. Health agencies could have been clearer in there messaging to the public. The quick manufacturing process led to uncertainty about its safety and effectiveness and resurrected concerns about vaccine safety in general.

Research continues to document the benefits of other vaccines, in particular, two problems that plaque older people, pneumonia and shingles. However, immunization rates for adults still lag far behind those for children. Many physicians still under value vaccinations for adults. Adult patients need to take the lead in talking with their healthcare provider about the shots they need; be the CEO of your health.

This season, there will be just one influenza vaccine for almost everyone older than 6 months. It is best to get vaccinated soon after the vaccine become available, usually in September, so you will have protection for the whole flu season. In June 2010 the CDC reported preliminary results that showed that for every 1 million vaccinations, there was less than one extra case of Guillain-Barre syndrome.

Additional studies found that people who get the shot have a strong immune response to it, which indicates that the vaccine provides substantial protection against the virus. People who regularly get vaccinated against the flu reduce their risk of developing potentially deadly complications from the disease.

Shingles, a recurrence of the chicken-pox virus can trigger rashes and nerve pain. Even though the vaccine has been available since 2006, it is reported that only 2 to 7 percent of eligible adults have had the shot. People 60 years and older and who don’t have a weakened immune system should discuss this vaccination with their healthcare provider.

Pneumoccus bacterium which causes a serious form of pneumonia, has a better record with about 35 percent of adults over 65 not being vaccinated. Younger people at high risk of developing respiratory problems are candidates for this vaccination, since complications from the infection hospitalize or kills a significant number of people.

Are you up-to-date on your vaccines? The following vaccines can cause mild side effects, including redness, soreness or rashes around the injection site. Occasionally, more serious side effects might occur, especially in those who experience an allergic reaction. Vaccines recommended by the CDC have a very good safety record, and all offer benefits that far outweigh any risks.

You should review your vaccination history with your healthcare provider. The vaccines to be addressed should include the following;
– Hepatitis A and B
– Chicken pox
– Human Papillomavirus
– Influenza
– Measles, Mumps and Rubella
– Meningitis
– Pneumonia
– Shingles
– Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis

After a thorough physical examination I explained to the mother, that her daughter was fine and had NO fever. As this information was translated by the flight attendant, the surrounding passengers smiled and returned to their seats. The Captain wanted to know the status of the passenger, as if I had any concerns of H1N1, we all would be quarantined on the airplane for 4 hours, once we landed at our destination.

My diagnosis confirmed as I noted the young girl was wildly running around the airport while we waited patiently for our luggage. My wife and I enjoyed the bottle of Champagne presented to me, by the Captain, as we deplaned. It was a great start to our vacation.