Every August, the National Public Health Information Coalition (NPHIC) teams up with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to promote the importance of vaccination for people of all ages. National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM) is the perfect time to reflect on the value of vaccination by checking your family’s immunizations - and your own – so they are up to date.
“Sanofi Pasteur supports National Immunization Awareness Month and has a strong commitment to public health as our vaccine legacy dates back more than 120 years,” said Elaine O’Hara, Head of North American Commercial Operations, Sanofi Pasteur. “It’s essential for us to work together to help protect the entire community through the value of comprehensive vaccination.”
Don’t Fall Behind
In August, families are bombarded with advertisements for back-to-school supplies and calendars to fill with school orientations and after-school activities. Along with scheduling these important activities, take time to look at vaccination records to help prevent toddlers, children and teenagers from falling behind on recommended shots.
Despite the fact that vaccines have clearly reduced childhood mortality from vaccine-preventable diseases, many young children still do not receive all of their recommended vaccines by kindergarten and therefore are potentially at risk. In fact, nearly 20 percent of toddlers are not up to date on their Tdap (diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough (pertussis)) and Hib (haemophilus influenzae b) immunizations, having skipped or missed doses.1
Adults need vaccines too and they often do not realize their importance. Despite many adults knowing whooping cough is highly contagious, nearly three of four adults have not received the CDC-recommended Tdap vaccine.2 Adults need this vaccination to help protect themselves, and also help prevent the spread of disease among babies and young children who are still building up their immunity.
Focus on Pre-Teens and Teenagers
While much of the recommended vaccine schedule is administered to children by their sixth birthday, older children need to start new series of vaccines, including Tdap, meningococcal (MenACWY) and other vaccines, around age 11-12. Did you know the CDC also recommends teens receive a critical second dose of MenACWY at age 16, too?3
“It’s just as important for teenagers to visit the doctor annually for a check-up and to review their vaccination status as it is for young children,” said family physician Dr. Jennifer Schriever of Sanford Health. “Busy teenagers and their parents may not want to prioritize going to the doctor when they feel healthy, but during these appointments, we educate them about maintaining good health over a lifetime and catch them up on vaccines that can help provide protection against potentially deadly diseases.”
It’s Not Too Soon for Flu
While flu viruses are detected year-round, we all know that those viruses are most common during fall and winter. Flu vaccines take up to two weeks to build up in the immune system, so the CDC recommends getting vaccinated early, as soon as the flu vaccine is available, before flu begins to spread in your community.
By the end of August, many pharmacies, doctor’s offices, clinics, college health centers, and some employers will have flu vaccine for the coming season. That makes it an ideal time for everyone -- from children to older adults, who are at greater risk of serious complications from the flu – to get vaccinated.
1 “Vaccination coverage among children aged 19 –35 months —United States, 2016.” MMWR. 2017; 66(43):1171-1177 https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/66/wr/mm6643a3.htm
2 “Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 5 Feb. 2016, https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/65/ss/ss6501a1.htm.
3 “Recommended Immunization Schedule for Children and Adolescents Aged 18 Years or Younger, United States, 2018.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 6 Feb. 2018, https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/hcp/imz/child-adolescent.html.