Immunizations represent one of the greatest public health accomplishments of the 20th century and August is recognized as National Immunization Awareness Month. The purpose of National Immunization Awareness Month is to celebrate the benefits of vaccination and highlight the importance of vaccination for people of all ages.
Babies receive vaccinations that help protect them from 14 diseases by age 2. Following the recommended immunization schedule is one of the most important things parents can do to protect their children’s health. Vaccines give parents the safe, proven power to protect their children from serious diseases. 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.
Vaccines are an important component to a healthy pregnancy. Women should be up to date on their vaccines before becoming pregnant, and should receive vaccines against both the flu and pertussis (whooping cough) during pregnancy. These vaccines not only protect the mother by preventing illnesses and complications, but also pass on protection to her baby before birth.
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 local health department. Certain vaccinations are recommended based on a person’s age, occupation or health conditions.
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. For more information on vaccines and immunizations, visit the Center for Disease Control & Prevention’s (CDC) website at http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/index.html.
Luke Smith is the health educator at the Sampson County Health Department.