Not Just for Kids!
National Immunization Awareness Month
Vaccines provide safe, proven power to protect your children and yourself.
Often referred to as shots or vaccines, immunizations are crucial to preventing dangerous and sometimes deadly diseases. Not just for kids only, it is critical for people of all ages to stay protected against serious illnesses, such as the flu, pneumonia, and the measles.
Each year in August we celebrate National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM). This is the perfect time for you to ensure you are up to date on your shots and to remind your family, friends and even your co-workers to stay current on their vaccinations.
To aid in the efforts to promote this awareness, the National Public Health Information Coalition (NPHIC), along with the Center for Disease Control’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, has created a unique communication toolkit. This toolkit serves as a resource to assist public information officers, immunization program managers, health care professionals, coalitions, advocates, parents, partners and others in communicating the importance of immunizations not only during the month of August, but throughout the year.
The main messages highlighted in the toolkit emphasize the importance of vaccines to protect against serious disease; that these diseases still exist, and outbreaks still occur; that vaccines are recommend throughout our lives; and finally, that vaccines are safe.
Each week during the month of August, NIAM will focus on a specific population. The first week will focus on babies and young children; the second week on pregnant women; the third week on adults; and the final week on preteens and teenagers. The entire month will also hold a critical message for Back-to-School matters.
Throughout the month, reminders will prevail to let parents know the importance of vaccines as they relate to protecting their child’s health; answering any questions they might have about vaccines. It will also serve as a reminder to ensure all children, including college students, are up-to-date on their vaccines before they return to the halls of academia. It is especially helpful to encourage college-aged students to have a conversation with their healthcare provider about any vaccines they may need to commence classes in the Fall. Additionally, this month will serve to educate adults, especially those in the older population and those with chronic conditions, to speak with their health care providers about any vaccines they might need. Also, of extreme importance, NIAM wants to educate pregnant women about getting vaccinated to protect their newborn babies from disease, such as whooping cough and the flu. Finally, when the flu season rears its ugly head later this year, NIAM stands as a strong reminder to get the flu shot early to protect yourself against this illness.
There are so many reasons to protect ourselves and our children through vaccinations. First of all, as parents it is important to do all we can to ensure our children our healthy and protected from preventable diseases. Vaccinations are the best way to provide that layer of protection. Vaccinations also protect children from serious illness and complications of diseases that could result in the loss of an arm or a leg, hearing loss, brain damage, paralysis and even death.
And believe it or not, the measles, mumps and whooping cough are not relics of past generations. They are still a viable threat and continue to infect children in the United States, resulting in many hospitalizations and deaths each year. When parents do not have their children vaccinated, outbreaks of preventable diseases can occur. Children left unvaccinated risk spreading disease to other children who are too young to be vaccinated or to individuals with compromised immune systems, including those with cancer or who have undergone organ transplants. Sadly, such exposure could lead to long-term complications or even death for these vulnerable populations.
As for their safety and efficacy, vaccines undergo extreme scrutiny, studies and review by scientists, doctors and the federal government to ensure their safety. We owe it to ourselves, to our children and to the public at large to maintain a solid commitment to public health in our communities by vaccinating ourselves and our family members.
Finally, be sure to check with your state or local health department for any additional immunization resources you can use during NIAM.
Sources: cdc.gov, immunizepa.org, vaccineinformation.org.
(For a communication toolkit and immunization resources, visit cdc.gov or immunizepa.org)