Posted July 29, 2016

 

Recognizing National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM) – August 2016

 

National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM) is an annual observance held in August to highlight the importance of vaccination for people of all ages. NIAM was established to encourage people of all ages to make sure they are up-to-date on the vaccines recommended for them. Communities have continued to use the month each year to raise awareness about the important role vaccines play in preventing serious, sometimes deadly, diseases.

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 is important because it not only protects the person receiving the vaccine, but also helps prevent the spread of disease, especially to those that are most vulnerable to serious complications such as infants and young children, elderly, and those with chronic conditions and weakened immune systems.

All adults, including pregnant women, should get the influenza (flu) vaccine each year to protect against seasonal flu. Every adult should have one dose of Tdap vaccine (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis or whooping cough) if they did not get Tdap as a teen, and then get the Td (tetanus and diphtheria) booster vaccine every 10 years. In addition, pregnant women are recommended to get the Tdap vaccine each time they are pregnant, preferably at 27 through 36 weeks.

Adults 60 year and older are recommended to receive the shingles vaccine. And adults 65 and older are recommended to receive one or more pneumococcal vaccines. Some adults younger than 65 years with certain high risk conditions are also recommended to receive one or more pneumococcal vaccinations.  

Adults may need other vaccines – such as hepatitis A, hepatitis B and HPV – depending on their age, occupation, travel, medical conditions, vaccinations they have already received or other considerations.

Babies and Young Children

Vaccines give parents the safe, proven power to protect their children from serious diseases. Parents can provide the best protection by following the recommended immunization schedule – giving their child the vaccines they need, when they need them.

Babies receive vaccinations that help protect them from 14 diseases by age 2. It is very important that babies receive all doses of each vaccine, as well as receive each vaccination on time. After age 2, children are still recommended to receive a yearly flu vaccine. Children will also be due for additional doses of some vaccines between 4 and 6 years of age. Following the recommended immunization schedule is one of the most important things parents can do to protect their children’s health. If a child falls behind the recommended immunizations schedule, vaccines can still be given to “catch-up” the child before adolescence.

Child care facilities, preschool programs and schools are prone to outbreaks of infectious diseases. Children in these settings can easily spread illnesses to one another due to poor hand washing, not covering their coughs, and other factors such as interacting in crowded environments.

When children are not vaccinated, they are at increased risk for disease and can spread disease to others in their play groups, 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.

Pregnant Women

Vaccines are an important component of a healthy pregnancy. Women should be up-to-date on their vaccines before becoming pregnant, and should receive vaccines against both the flu and whooping cough (pertussis) during pregnancy. These vaccines not only protect the mother by preventing illnesses and complications, but also pass on protection to her baby before birth.

Women who are planning to become pregnant may need to receive some vaccines before the start of pregnancy. These vaccines, such as the measles mumps rubella (MMR) vaccine, may need to be administered at least 4 weeks before a woman becomes pregnant. Some vaccine-preventable diseases, such as rubella, can lead to significant pregnancy complications, including birth defects.

Pregnancy is a good time for expectant mothers to start learning about the safe, proven disease protection that vaccines will provide to their babies once they are born. Pregnant women also should plan on getting flu and whooping cough vaccines during their pregnancy. Pregnant women are at increased risk for serious complications from the flu. The flu shot helps to protect a pregnant woman and her developing baby from the flu. There is some data to suggest that even if a vaccinated person gets the flu, their symptoms may be milder because they were vaccinated. The pregnant mother passes flu shot antibodies on to her developing baby so the baby is protected for several months after he or she is born. By getting a whooping cough vaccine in the third trimester, the pregnant mother also develops antibodies and passes them on to her developing baby so that her baby is born with protection against whooping cough.

Preteens and Teens

Parents can do a number of things to ensure a healthy future for their child. One of the most important actions parents can take is to make sure their children are up-to-date on their vaccines. Following the recommended immunization schedule provides the best protection from serious, and sometimes deadly, diseases.


Preteens and teens need four vaccines to protect against serious diseases:
 

  • quadrivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccine to protect against meningitis and blood infections (septicemia);

  • HPV (human papilloma virus) 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.

    
Teens and young adults may also be vaccinated with a serogroup B meningococcal vaccine. Adolescents need vaccines because they are at increased risk for certain diseases like meningitis and cancer-causing HPV infections. It is important to get HPV vaccine before being exposed to HPV. Parents can send their preteens and teens to middle school and high school – and also off to college – protected from these vaccine-preventable diseases by ensuring their children are up-to-date on their vaccines.

Along with helping protect preteens and teens from certain diseases like the flu, being vaccinated also helps stop the spread of these diseases to others in their family, classroom, and community.

School Age Children

Getting vaccinated according to the recommended immunization schedule 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, a toddler heading to preschool, a student going back to elementary, middle or high school – or even a college freshman – parents should check their child’s vaccination records.

Child care facilities, preschool programs, schools and colleges are prone to outbreaks of infectious diseases. Children in these settings can easily spread illnesses to one another due to poor hand washing, not covering their coughs, and other factors such as interacting in crowded environments.

When children are not vaccinated, they are at increased risk for disease and can spread disease to others in their play groups, 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.

Additionally, 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 the requirements in their state or county.

Are you and your family up-to-date?

Click on the links below for online and printable versions of Immunization Schedules:

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