National Immunization Awareness Month
August is National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM). NIAM is a yearly observance in August led by the CDC to highlight the importance of vaccination for all ages, from infants to the elderly. The goal of NIAM is to raise awareness about the critical role vaccines to play in preventing serious, sometimes deadly, diseases.
Why are vaccines so important?
- Vaccines protect against serious diseases.
- These diseases still exist, and outbreaks do occur.
- Vaccines are recommended throughout our lives.
- Vaccines are very safe.
Who all needs vaccines? Everyone!
According to the recommended immunization schedule, getting vaccinated is one of the most important things a parent can do to protect their child’s health. Diseases can quickly spread among groups of children who aren’t vaccinated. Whether it’s a baby starting at a new child care facility- or even a college freshman – parents should check their child’s vaccination records.
When children are not vaccinated, they are at increased risk for disease. They can spread disease to others in their playgroups, child care centers, classrooms, and communities – including babies who are too young to be fully vaccinated and people with weakened immune systems due to cancer and other health conditions.
Babies receive vaccinations that protect them from 14 different diseases. After age 2, children are still recommended to receive a yearly flu vaccine due for additional vaccine doses between 4 and 6 years of age. Make sure your child gets every dose along the way and every dose on time!
States may require children who are entering child care or school to be vaccinated against certain diseases. Colleges and universities may have their own requirements, especially for students living in a dormitory. Parents should check with their child’s doctor, school, or the local health department to learn about their state or county requirements.
Preteens and Teens:
- By ensuring vaccines are up to date, parents can send their preteens and teens to middle school and high school – and off to college –with protection from vaccine-preventable diseases.
- Preteens and teens need four vaccines to protect against serious diseases:
- A quadrivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccine to protect against meningitis and blood infections (septicemia);
- HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine to protect against cancers caused by HPV;
- Tdap vaccine to protect against tetanus, diphtheria, and whooping cough (pertussis); and
- a yearly flu vaccine to protect against seasonal flu.
Adolescents and Adults:
- All adults should get vaccines to protect their health. Even healthy adults can become seriously ill and can pass certain illnesses on to others.
- Everyone should have their vaccination needs assessed at their doctor’s office, pharmacy, or other visits with healthcare providers. Certain vaccines are recommended based on a person’s age, occupation, or health conditions such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetes, or heart disease.
- Vaccination protected the person receiving the vaccine and helps prevent the spread of disease, especially to those most vulnerable to severe complications such as infants and young children, the elderly, and those with chronic conditions and weakened immune systems.
- Take this quiz to see what you may need
Pregnant Women: Vaccines are an essential part of a healthy pregnancy!
- Women should be up to date on their vaccines before becoming pregnant and should receive flu and whooping cough vaccines during pregnancy.
- Pregnant women are at increased risk of severe complications from the flu.
- The pregnant mother passes flu shot antibodies onto her developing baby, so the baby is protected for several months after birth.
- A pregnant woman should get the whooping cough vaccine in the third trimester. Antibodies are also passed on to the developing baby so that the baby is born with protection against whooping cough.
- Speak with your doctor and plan for vaccines. Some vaccines must be done several weeks before becoming pregnant such as the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine.
- For more information for pregnant women on vaccines:
Click here or here
- Seniors may need one or more vaccines, even if they received vaccines as a child or as a younger adult. Ask your doctor which ones are right for you. Don’t forget that if you are traveling, you may need additional vaccines.
- For more information: https://www.vaccines.gov/who_and_when/
Remember the Flu Vaccine:
- Vaccines protect you all year round, but August is a great time to get vaccinated! August is also a good time for you and your family to make plans to get the flu vaccine. The vaccine usually becomes available in mid-to-late August. Getting the vaccine early can help prevent you and your family members from getting the flu throughout all of the flu season. You can learn more about the flu and flu vaccine at Flu.gov.
- When taking yourself and your family for your flu shots, you can also ask your health care provider about other routinely recommended vaccines you might need. Make sure that the whole family is up-to-date on their DTap/Tdap and MMRV boosters too!
Vaccines are the best defense we have against these and other serious diseases, and it’s essential to make sure that you’re up to date on all recommended vaccines. Use National Immunization Awareness Month as your chance to make sure that all your vaccinations are current!