August is National Immunization Awareness Month
If you’ve got kids, make sure they have their necessary shots before starting the school year. Adults, we’re not completely off the hook either. August is recognized as National Immunization Awareness Month. The goal: To increase awareness about immunizations across the life span, from infants to the elderly. Parents are enrolling their children in school, students are headed to college, and healthcare workers are preparing for the upcoming flu season.
Why must you get immunized? According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC):
Immunization is one of the most significant public health achievements of the 20th century. Vaccines have eradicated smallpox, eliminated wild poliovirus in the United States and significantly reduced the number of cases of measles, diphtheria, rubella, pertussis and other diseases. But despite these efforts, people in the U.S. still die from these and other vaccine-preventable diseases.
Vaccines offer safe and effective protection from infectious diseases. By staying up-to-date on the recommended vaccines, individuals can protect themselves, their families and friends and their communities from serious, life-threatening infections.
This is ultimately when someone says, “well I heard…” and goes on about conspiracies, alternative medicines, and other generally unsubstantiated reasons for not getting immunized.
Before listening to this person any longer, school yourself and get the facts from your health provider. There are at least six common misperceptions about vaccinations. Match this up with what you’re hearing.
Parents: The CDC has a parent’s guide on what vaccinations are needed and at what age. The Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities notes:
Data show that in 2000 children living below the poverty level have lower immunization coverage rates as well. Although great progress has been made in improving childhood immunization rates, some disparities in overall immunization coverage rates among racial and ethnic groups still exist. This disparity is of great concern in large urban areas with underserved populations because of the potential for outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases.
College Age Students: You’re not off the hook, especially if college involves traveling overseas.
Adults and those with compromised immune systems: The CDC has immunization schedules and information for a variety of populations. Take a quick tour of the CDC site to make sure your immunizations are up to date.