National Immunization Awareness Month

August is National Immunization Awareness Month is a great time to promote vaccines and increase awareness about immunizations across the lifespan, from infants to the elderly and remind family, friends, and coworkers to stay up to date on their shots. Immunization, or vaccination, helps prevent dangerous and sometimes deadly diseases. Immunization isn’t just for kids — to stay protected against serious illnesses like the flu, measles, and pneumonia, adults need to get vaccinated too.

Each year, thousands of adults in the United States suffer serious health problems, are hospitalized, or even die from diseases that could be prevented by vaccines, including influenza, whooping cough, certain bacterial infections, hepatitis A and B, shingles, and even some cancers. Immunization rates among adults for many of these vaccine preventable diseases are extremely low. For instance, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) that though the shingles vaccine is recommended for all adults over age 60 years, only an estimated 15.8 percent of that population had received it.

Protection from some childhood immunizations wears off over time, leaving you vulnerable to disease. Vaccines are responsible for the control of many infectious diseases that were once common in this country,For example, there has been a rise in cases of whooping cough in the last few years. Over 41,000 cases of whooping cough were reported in 2012. We have learned that the protection from DTaP whooping cough vaccine given to children doesn’t last into adulthood, so all adults are now recommended to get one booster dose of Tdap whooping cough vaccine.

Its true that adults may be recommended for certain vaccines due to their age, job, hobbies, travel, or health condition. Other vaccines may be recommended if they didnt get certain vaccines as children, such as the HPV vaccine, Measles-mumps-rubella vaccine, and varicella chicken pox vaccines. Some adults, including older adults and those that have chronic health conditions, may be at higher risk for serious complications from some vaccine-preventable diseases. Vaccines have reduced and, in some cases, eliminated many diseases.

Younger children aged 4 years to 6 years are due for boosters of four vaccines: DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis), varicella, MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella), and polio. Older children, such as preteens and teens, need Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis), MenACWY (meningococcal conjugate vaccine), and HPV (human papillomavirus) at 11 to 12 years of age. In addition, the influenza vaccine is recommended for all children aged 6 months and older.

In August, as summer winds down, it’s 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 flu season. There are many routinely recommended vaccines for people of all ages. These are some examples of vaccines you can discuss with your healthcare provider about what vaccines you and your family need, and keep putting your healthiest foot forward! Vaccines protect you all year round, but August is a great time to get vaccinated.