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More Vaccine Information


The name of the Tetanus, Diphtheria, and Pertussis vaccine may sound more like a rap song than a medication, but however you remember it, know that Tdap is something all adolescents and adults should receive.

According to St. Lawrence Health providers, children should receive a single dose of the Tdap vaccination at age 11 or 12, and adults should get a booster dose every 10 years.

Tetanus (also known as lockjaw) is probably the most commonly known disease of the three, and it enters the body through cuts or wounds, while diphtheria, and pertussis (also known as whooping cough) spread from person-to-person.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains that Tetanus (T) causes seizures, painful stiffening of the muscles, and may lead to serious health problems, including the inability to open the mouth, having trouble swallowing and breathing, or even death. Diphtheria (D) can lead to difficulty breathing, nerve damage, heart failure, paralysis, or death.

Pertussis (aP) can cause uncontrollable, violent coughing that makes it hard to breathe, eat, or drink. Pertussis can be extremely serious especially in babies and young children, causing pneumonia, convulsions, brain damage, or death. In teens and adults, it can cause weight loss, loss of bladder control, passing out, and rib fractures from severe coughing.

The most common side effects to the Tdap vaccine include pain, redness or swelling at the injection site, mild fever, headache, or feeling tired; nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or stomachache sometimes occur.

Learn more about the Tdap vaccine by talking with your St. Lawrence Health provider, or find one. The CDC’s website is also an accurate sources of information.


A double dose of one vaccine can keep measles, mumps and rubella where they belong – in the past.

St. Lawrence Health reminds parents and guardians that all 50 states and the District of Columbia have state laws requiring children who are entering childcare or public schools to have certain vaccinations; the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine is one of them.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends children get the two-dose vaccine, starting with the first dose at 12 to 15 months of age, and the second dose at four to six years of age. Another option for children aged 12 months through 12 years is the MMRV vaccine, which protects against measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella (chickenpox).

Common side effects of the MMR vaccine include a two to three day fever, faint red rash, head cold, tiredness, swelling of the salivary glands, or redness and swelling at the injection site.

On the other hand, an individual with the measles could experience a high fever, rash, cough, runny nose, and red, watery eyes. There is also the tell-tale red rash, which starts at the head and then spreads down the body, sometimes forming raised blotchy patches. The rash is typically not itchy.

Mumps causes fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, loss of appetite, and swollen salivary glands, which cause the face to become puffy.

Rubella, also called German measles, causes fever, sore throat, headache, and red, itchy eyes. It also has a distinctive red/pink rash that appears on the face, trunk, and then the arms and legs.

Teens and adults who do not have evidence of immunity against measles, mumps, and rubella are encouraged to speak with their St. Lawrence Health primary care provider about getting vaccinated. The CDC has stated the MMR vaccine is safe, and there is no harm to people who get another dose, even if they are already immune to measles, mumps, or rubella.

For informative and accurate information about meningococcal meningitis, talk with your St. Lawrence Health provider or find one online, or visit the CDC’s website.


While the public’s attention has been on the COVID-19 vaccine over the past couple of years, it is important to not forget about another potentially life-saving vaccine: MenACWY or MenB for meningococcal meningitis.

When someone has meningococcal meningitis, the bacteria infect the lining of the brain and spinal cord and cause swelling.

St. Lawrence Health would like to remind the public that meningococcal bacteria are spread from person-to-person by sharing respiratory and throat secretions (saliva or spit).

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) meningococcal bacteria are not as contagious as germs that cause the common cold or the flu, and people do not catch the bacteria through casual contact or by breathing air where someone with meningococcal disease has been.

Symptoms of meningococcal disease may first appear with flu-like similarities, then worsen rapidly. Common symptoms include fever, headache, and stiff neck that may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light, and/or confusion.

The CDC pointed out that newborns and babies may not have the classic symptoms listed above, or it may be difficult to notice those symptoms in babies. Instead, babies may be slow or inactive, irritable, vomiting, feeding poorly, or have a bulging anterior fontanelle (the soft spot of the skull). In young children, doctors may also look at the child’s reflexes for signs of meningitis.

The CDC recommends meningococcal vaccination for all preteens and teens, and in certain situations for infants, children, and adults. All 11 to 12 year-olds should get a MenACWY vaccine, with a booster shot at age 16. Teens who were not inoculated at a younger age may receive the MenB vaccine, preferably at ages 16 through 18.

Mild side effects from the MenACWY vaccination can include redness or soreness at the injection site, muscle pain, headache, and/or feeling tired. Such side effects typically last one or two days. Mild side effects from the MenB vaccination can also include the same as the MenACWY vaccination, along with swelling at the injections site, fever or chills, and nausea or diarrhea. These side effects may last up to three to five days.

For informative and accurate information about meningococcal meningitis, talk with your St. Lawrence Health provider or find one online, or visit the CDC’s website.


Many people are most likely unaware that at one point in time there were three types of poliovirus. Two of the three have been eradicated, and type 1 is still an active virus.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) is the only polio vaccine that has been given in the United States since 2000; this vaccine does not contain live virus.

St. Lawrence Health’s clinical staff reminds parents and guardians that New York State requires all children entering childcare or public schools to be vaccinated against polio. The CDC recommends that children in the United States get the IPV in four doses, with one dose at each of the following ages:

  • 2 months old
  • 4 months old
  • 6 through 18 months old
  • 4 through 6 years old

Most adults do not need the polio vaccine because they were already vaccinated as children. But three groups of adults are at higher risk and should consider polio vaccination in the following situations:

  • You are traveling to a country where the risk of getting polio is greater.
  • You are working in a laboratory and handling specimens that might contain polioviruses.
  • You are a healthcare worker treating patients who could have polio or have close contact with a person who could be infected with poliovirus.

The IPV has not been known to cause serious side effects, and most people do not have any adverse reaction with it. The most common side effect is a sore spot where the shot was given.

For informative and accurate information about the inactivated polio vaccine, talk with your St. Lawrence Health provider or find one online, or visit the CDC’s website.


Are your infantile and elderly loved ones protected from pneumococcal disease? Pneumococcal infections are caused by bacteria, and can range from ear and sinus infections, to pneumonia and meningitis.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends vaccinations against the disease for all children younger than two, and anyone over 65 who has not had the vaccine.

There are two kinds of pneumococcal vaccines used in the United States to help protect against pneumococcal disease:

  • Pneumococcal conjugate vaccines (PCV13, PCV15, or PCV20)
  • Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23)

The two vaccines protect against many, but not all types of pneumococcal bacteria, and the protection from them is good but not 100%; meaning there is still a chance someone can develop pneumococcal disease after vaccination.

The CDC advises all children younger than two should receive PCV13, and children ages two through 18 with certain medical conditions should receive PCV13 and PPSV23. Adults who have never received a pneumococcal conjugate vaccine should receive PCV15 or PCV20 if they are 65 years and older, or are ages 19 through 64 and have certain medical conditions or other risk factors.

Most people who get one of these vaccines do not have any serious problems with it; however, side effects can occur and are typically mild. Individuals may have redness, swelling or tenderness at the site of the injection, fever, loss of appetite, irritability, headache, fever, or muscle aches/joint pain. If side effects do occur, they usually go away within two days.

For informative and accurate information about pneumococcal vaccines, talk with your St. Lawrence Health provider or find one online, or visit the CDC’s website.


The human papillomavirus, or HPV, is the most common sexually transmitted disease; it can, however, be prevented.

Millions of people are infected with HPV every year, and the clinical staff at St. Lawrence Health want you to be aware that you do not have to become one of the virus’s statistics. Using precaution when engaging in sexual activity is always important, and being vaccinated against HPV between the ages of 11 and 26 is a safe and effective way to prevent it.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), receiving the vaccine between these ages provides the most protection. Some adults age 27 through 45 who are not already vaccinated may decide to get the HPV vaccine after speaking with their healthcare provider about their risk for new HPV infections and the possible benefits of vaccination.

It is important to understand that at any age, having a new sexual partner is a risk factor for getting a new HPV infection.

Most people with HPV are unaware they even have the infection. They never develop symptoms or health problems from it. In most cases (9 out of 10), HPV goes away on its own within two years without health problems.

Others may find out they have HPV when they get genital warts, and females may find out when they get an abnormal Pap test result (during a cervical cancer screening). Others may only find out once they have developed more serious problems from HPV, such as cancers.

You also can discover you have been infected with HPV years after having sex with someone who has the infection. This makes it hard to know when you first contracted the virus.

There is no treatment for the virus itself; however, there are treatments for the health problems that HPV can cause. For informative and accurate information about HPV, talk with your St. Lawrence Health provider or find one on our website, or visit the CDC’s website.


Many people may be under the assumption that hepatitis is a thing of the past, or is not something they can get in the United States. Think again. Hepatitis A (hep A) and hepatitis B (hep B) infect thousands of Americans each year, and could result substantial harm to the liver.

Hepatitis causes inflammation of the liver, and could further lead to damage of the organ. While outbreaks are still occurring, the good news is they can be prevented, as there are vaccines for both hep A and hep B.

Hep A can be treated by supportive treatment for the symptoms, and most people recover without any lasting liver damage. There is no medication available for hep B. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 15% to 25% of infected people with hep B develop chronic liver disease.

Hep A can be contracted by coming into contact with an object that is contaminated with fecal matter (even a microscopic amount) from an infected person. Hep B is most often spread from the body fluids of an infected person, such as blood or semen, to someone who is not infected. A pregnant woman who has hep B could also infect her fetus.

Individuals who contract either hepatitis A or B may not always have symptoms; if they do, however, such symptoms may include yellow skin or eyes, upset stomach, fever, dark urine or light-colored stools, joint pain, and not having any interest in eating.

For informative and accurate information about the hepatitis A and hepatitis B vaccines, talk with your St. Lawrence Health primary care provider or find one online, or visit the CDC’s website.


Haemophilus influenzae disease is a name for any infection caused by bacteria called H. influenzae. The one that people are most familiar with is H. influenzae type b or Hib.

The CDC has stated people spread H. influenzae, including Hib, to others through respiratory droplets. This happens when someone who has the bacteria in their nose or throat coughs or sneezes. People who are not sick but have the bacteria in their noses and throats can still spread the bacteria.

H. influenzae symptoms will vary depending on which part of the body is infected. Pneumonia may present with fever and chills, cough, sweating, and aches; a bloodstream infection may show signs of diarrhea, belly pain, confusion, and anxiety; and meningitis typically includes the sudden onset of headache, stiff neck, nausea, and light sensitivity of the eyes. 

The CDC recommends Hib vaccination for all children younger than 5 years old, and involves multiple (3 or 4) shots.

For informative and accurate information about the haemophilus influenzae Type B (Hib) vaccine, talk with your St. Lawrence Health pediatrician or visit the CDC's website.


Chickenpox is a very contagious disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV), and can infect unvaccinated individuals at any age. The virus causes a blister-like rash, itching, tiredness, and fever. 

Two doses of the vaccine are about 90% effective at preventing chickenpox. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends two doses of chickenpox vaccine for children, adolescents, and adults. Children should receive two doses of the vaccine; the first dose at 12 through 15 months old, and a second dose at 4 through 6 years old.

The Mayo Clinic has reported that shingles is caused by the varicella-zoster virus — the same virus that causes chickenpox. After you've had chickenpox, the virus lies inactive in nerve tissue near your spinal cord and brain. Years later, the virus may reactivate as shingles. A shingles vaccine may help prevent shingles.

For informative and accurate information about the chickenpox vaccine, talk with your St. Lawrence Health pediatrician, or visit the CDC's website.

Influenza Vaccine

The message is simple: the influenza vaccine can prevent the flu. The flu is at its peak every year in the United States between October and May, and on average, thousands of people in the Nation will die from it. 

The CDC recommends everyone six months and older get vaccinated every flu season. It takes approximately two weeks for the protection to develop once you have been vaccinated; the vaccine does not cause the flu.

Non-vaccinated individuals who contract this contagious disease may experience fever and chills, sore throat, muscle aches, fatigue, cough, headache, and a runny or stuffy nose. Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.

For informative and accurate information about the flu vaccine, talk with your St. Lawrence Health primary care provider, or visit the CDC's website

Rotavirus Vaccine

If symptoms of severe, watery diarrhea and vomiting in your infant or young child are evident, they may have the rotavirus. Children with the virus may become dehydrated and need to be hospitalized. Before this happens, protect them with the rotavirus vaccine. 

The liquid vaccines are given in either three doses or two doses, depending on the vaccine. The first dose is recommended before your infant is 15 weeks old, and all doses should be received before they turn eight months old. 

Rotavirus is transmissible, and there is not currently a medication to treat the infection itself.

For informative and accurate information about the rotavirus vaccine, talk with your St. Lawrence Health pediatrician, or visit the CDC's website