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Vaccines: A Love Story

Published November 2022 | In Fall 2022

Director of Infusion Services, Brandi Tackett, PharmD., is passionate about the science behind vaccines and immunization. She and the rest of the pharmacy team at Monument Health bring expertise to every patient’s decision about medication.

Vaccines: A Love Story Media

Brandi Tackett, Director of Infusion Services at Monument Health, learned early in life that the subject of medicine energizes her. When she was growing up, her grandma had diabetes. She points to this as the beginning of her desire to understand how medication can help people.

“I then spent some time working in a rural health clinic in high school,” she said. “I learned there that I really love the study and the science behind medication.” Brandi didn’t miss a beat pursuing her passion. “I started pharmacy school when I was 17,” she explained. 

Getting Excited for Vaccines

One particular topic in medication that gets Brandi buzzing with excitement is vaccines and immunization. “If I could tell people one thing about vaccines, it would be that they are the biggest success story in the history of public health,” she shared. By harnessing the natural response of the immune system, vaccines have changed the well-being of humankind in a way that can’t be overstated. “The World Health Organization did a study recently, and they estimated that about 5 million lives each year are saved thanks to vaccines.” Most of the lives being saved by vaccines belong to children from all over the world. 

3 Facts about Vaccines 

About 200 years ago, Edward Jenner, a British physician, observed that milkmaids who had been infected with cowpox seemed to be immune to the similar but much deadlier smallpox. Jenner began to experiment with intentionally infecting people with cowpox to protect them from smallpox. Jenner would later name this process vaccination — vacca being Latin for cow. 

Children benefit the most from the worldwide spread of vaccines. Every year, vaccines save the lives of about 3 million children. Since 1988, the number of children paralyzed by polio has shrunk by over 99 percent. 

Vaccines have come a long way. One of the latest advancements in vaccinology is mRNA vaccines. Instead of infecting the body with a weakened form of the virus, scientists are able to create a protein that instructs cells how to fight off specific diseases. This technology has been in development for decades. The first commercially distributed mRNA vaccine was the vaccine for SARS-CoV-2. 

Assemble Your Team

To ensure that you’re making the best decisions for your health, it’s best to speak with an expert. “The medication process can be very complex,” Brandi said. “Make sure you’re bringing a team of people around the medications you use. It’s about asking questions to your doctor, your nurse and your pharmacist.” The caregivers at Monument Health are passionate about helping people make informed and complete decisions about their medication and vaccines.

Brandi makes sure that all of her family and friends are vaccinated against two diseases when they’re eligible for the shots: pneumococcal pneumonia and shingles. “Both of these can have some serious health consequences if you contract them,” she said. 

 

Pneumococcal Vaccine 

Pneumococcal disease can cause pneumonia, meningitis, sepsis and other potentially deadly infections. Adults 65 years and older as well as some younger adults who are at risk should get a pneumococcal vaccine. Children under 2 also are eligible for a version of the pneumococcal vaccine. In children, the vaccine significantly reduces the risk of early childhood ailments like ear infections. The complications caused by pneumococcal diseases can range from inconvenient to life-threatening. Aging is complicated enough. If you’re 65 or older, talk to your doctor or pharmacist about the protection that a pneumococcal vaccine can provide. 

Shingles Vaccine

Shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox, the varicella-zoster virus. If you were infected with chickenpox as a child, the virus remains dormant in your body. The virus can reemerge years later as shingles. Although shingles isn’t life-threatening, the infection can result in extremely painful blisters and rashes and may even cause permanent nerve damage and long-term pain. If the shingles rash spreads to the face and eyes, vision loss can occur. Everyone 50 years or older should get the shingles vaccine. This vaccine is administered in two doses with two to six weeks between doses. The potential pain and complications caused by shingles can be reduced by over 90 percent with two simple shots.