August is recognized as National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM). This awareness month highlights the need for improving national immunization coverage levels and encourages all people to protect their health by being immunized against infectious diseases. It is the time when we promote back to school immunizations, remind college students to catch up immunizations before they move into dormitories, and remind everyone that the influenza season is only a few months away. It’s a great reminder to our nation that people of all ages require timely immunization to protect their health. This observance provides the opportunity to remind the community of the importance of immunization. Immunization is the ability of your body to eradicate a malicious “invader” in the body.Make sure that your family and friends are up-to-date on their immunizations.
What Is a Vaccine?
- Vaccines take advantage of your body’s natural ability to learn how to combat many disease-causing germs, or microbes, that attack it.
- Traditional vaccines contain either parts of microbes or whole microbes that have been killed or weakened so that they don’t cause disease.
- When your immune system confronts these harmless versions of the germs, it quickly clears them from your body.
- In other words, vaccines trick your immune system to teach your body important lessons about how to defeat its opponents.
- Vaccines are responsible for the control of many infectious diseases that were once common in this country.
- Vaccines have reduced and, in some cases, eliminated many diseases that once routinely killed or harmed tens of thousands of infants, children and adults.
- Vaccine-preventable diseases have a costly impact, resulting in doctors’ visits, hospitalizations and premature deaths. Sick children can also cause parents to lose time from work.
10 REASONS TO BE VACCINATED
- Vaccine-preventable diseases have not gone away. Without the protection of vaccines, we will experience more disease outbreaks, more severe illnesses, and more deaths.
- Vaccines will help keep you healthy. When you skip your vaccines, you leave yourself vulnerable to illnesses such as shingles, pneumococcal disease, influenza, and HPV and hepatitis B, both leading causes of cancer.
- Vaccines are as important to your overall health as diet and exercise. Like eating healthy foods, exercising, and getting regular check-ups, vaccines play a vital role in keeping you healthy. Vaccines are one of the simplest, most convenient, and safest preventive care measures available.
- Vaccination can mean the difference between life and death. Every year, tens of thousands of US adults die from diseases they could have avoided with vaccination.
- Vaccines are safe. The US has the best post-licensure surveillance system in the world. That’s why we can say with absolute confidence that our vaccines are extremely safe. There is extraordinarily strong data from many different medical investigators all pointing to that same result.
- Vaccines won’t give you the disease they are designed to prevent. You cannot “catch” the disease from the vaccine. Some vaccines contain “killed” virus, and it is impossible to get the disease from them. Others have weakened viruses designed to ensure that you cannot catch the disease.
- Young and healthy people can get very sick, too. Infants and the elderly are at a greater risk for serious infections and complications in many cases, but vaccine-preventable diseases can strike anyone. If you’re young and healthy, getting vaccinated can help you stay that way.
- Vaccine-preventable diseases are expensive. An average influenza illness can last up to 15 days, translating into five or six missed work days. Adults who get hepatitis A lose an average of one month of work.
When you get sick, your children, grandchildren and parents are at risk, too. A vaccine-preventable disease that might make you sick for a week or two could prove deadly for your children, grandchildren, or parents if it spreads to them.
- When you get vaccinated, you’re protecting yourself and your family.
- Your family and coworkers need you. Each year, millions of Americans get sick from vaccine-preventable diseases, causing them to miss work and leaving them unable to care for those who depend on them, including their children and/or aging parents.
You never outgrow the need for vaccines. The specific immunizations you need as an adult are determined by factors such as your age, lifestyle, high-risk conditions, type and locations of travel, and previous immunizations. Throughout your adult life, you need immunizations to get and maintain protection against: flu, tetanus, diphtheria, shingles, pneumonia, HPV, etc.
TEENS AND PRETEENS: WHAT VACCINES MIGHT YOU NEED?
- Preteen and teen vaccines – Need4 shots, preventing 6 diseases: meningococcal, tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, human papillomavirus, and influenza.
- Catch-up vaccines – Those who were not immunized, or were not fully immunized before 2 years old need 3-4 shots, preventing 6 diseases: Hepatitis B, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, and Varicella;
- Vaccines for those at high-risk – This is necessary for international travel and many health conditions; 2 shots preventing 2 diseases: hepatitis A and pneumococcal.
INFANTS AND TODDLERS:Infants are particularly vulnerable to infectious diseases; that is why it is critical to protect them through immunization. Each day, nearly 12,000 babies are born in the United States who will need to be immunized before age two against 14 vaccine-preventable diseases. Immunizations help prevent the spread of disease and protect infants and toddlers against dangerous complications. Immunization is one of the most important things a parent can do to protect their children’s health. Today we can protect children from 14 serious diseases. Failure to vaccinate may mean putting children at risk for serious diseases.
As your child heads to school, make an appointment with the pediatrician to have her receive the necessary immunizations required by your state. A child cannot start school without having received the necessary immunizations, as mandated by state laws. Commonly required school immunizations are:
- DPT (diphtheria, tetanus pertussis)
- MMR (measles, mumps, rubella)
- HIB (haemophilus influenza, type B)
- Hepatitis B
- Varicella (chickenpox)
- General immunization questions can be answered by The Center for Disease Control Contact Center at 1-800-CDC-INFO or (1-800-232-4636) English/ Español;
- Questions about vaccines and vaccine-preventable diseases frequently asked by people calling the TTY Service Hotline at 1-888-232-6348 (TTY hotline) www.vaccines.ashastd.org/ttyservice