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Atrium Health Navicent Physicians Urge Community to Catch Up on Vaccinations

August is National Immunization Awareness Month

Atrium Health Navicent physicians urge the community to catch up on recommended vaccinations this month in observance of National Immunization Awareness Month and to take preventative steps to improve health and wellness.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently issued new guidelines recommending that adults ages 60 and older talk to their doctors about receiving a single dose of the Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) vaccine. The vaccine is expected to be available this fall.

RSV is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms. While most people recover in a week or two, RSV can be serious for infants and older adults. Adults at the highest risk for severe RSV illness include older adults, adults with chronic heart or lung disease, adults with weakened immune systems, and adults living in nursing homes or long-term care facilities. The CDC estimates that every year, RSV causes 60,000-160,000 hospitalizations and 6,000- 10,000 deaths among older adults.

The CDC also reports that RSV is the most common cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia in children younger than 1 year of age. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently approved Nirsevimab, sold under the brand name Beyfortus, to protect newborns from RSV. Beyfortus is an antibody that can block the virus from infecting healthy cells. It’s given as a single injection to an infant before RSV season. The FDA also approved a second injection for infants up to 24 months of age who remain vulnerable through their second RSV season.

Even though the national health emergency has ended, COVID-19 vaccinations still are recommended for everyone ages 6 months and older, and COVID-19 booster shots are recommended for everyone ages 5 years and older.

“We’re starting to see more cases of COVID-19 and as summer turns to fall, we’re expecting to see an uptick in RSV and other respiratory diseases,” said Dr. Warren Hutchings, medical director for Atrium Health Navicent Primary Care West Macon. “COVID-19 vaccines have offered life-saving protection, and now, with the RSV vaccine and infant injection, we’ll have more tools to prevent another dangerous disease.”

It’s also important for parents and guardians to ensure children are up to date on routine vaccinations. On-time vaccination throughout childhood is essential because the vaccines provide immunity before children are exposed to potentially life-threatening diseases.

The CDC reports that during the 2021–22 school year, national coverage with state-required vaccines among kindergarten students decreased again to approximately 93 percent for all state-required vaccines. An additional 4.4 percent of children were not up to date with vaccination for measles, mumps and rubella.

“No matter your age, vaccines are an important component of disease prevention. If it’s been a while since you or your loved ones have seen a primary care physician for an annual wellness exam, chances are you may be behind schedule with vaccinations. Now is the time to make that appointment. Vaccinations only take a few minutes but can have lifelong positive impacts on your family’s health,” Hutchings said.

The CDC has issued the following age-based guidelines to help parents understand which vaccines children need as they grow up, and which vaccines are recommended for adults.

Birth to age 2:

• Chickenpox

• Diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTaP)

• Flu

• Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib)

• Hepatitis A and B

• Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR)

• Pneumococcal (PCV13)

• Polio

• Rotavirus

• COVID-19

Ages 3 to 10:

• Chickenpox

• Diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTaP)

• Flu

• Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR)

• Polio

• COVID-19

Ages 11 to 18:

• Flu

• Human papillomavirus (HPV)

• Meningococcal conjugate

• Serogroup B meningococcal

• Diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTaP)

• COVID-19

Adults:

• Flu

• COVID-19

• Tetanus and Diphtheria booster is recommended every 10 years

• Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) is recommended for ages 60 and older

To find a doctor, visit www.NavicentHealth.org and click “Find A Doctor.”

About Atrium Health Navicent

Atrium Health Navicent is the leading provider of health care in central and south Georgia and is committed to its mission of elevating health and wellbeing through compassionate care. Atrium Health Navicent is part of Advocate Health, which is headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, and is the third-largest nonprofit health system in the United States, created from the combination of Atrium Health and Advocate Aurora Health. Atrium Health Navicent provides high-quality, personalized care in 53 specialties at more than 50 facilities throughout the region. As part of the largest, integrated, nonprofit health system in the Southeast, it is also able to tap into some of the nation’s leading medical experts and specialists with Atrium Health, allowing it to provide the best care close to home – including advanced innovations in virtual medicine and care. Throughout its 125-year history in the community, Atrium Health Navicent has remained dedicated to enhancing health and wellness for individuals throughout the region through nationally recognized quality care, community health initiatives and collaborative partnerships. It is also one of the leading teaching hospitals in the region, helping to ensure viability for rural health care for the next generation. For more information, please visit www.NavicentHealth.org.