August is National Immunization Awareness Month
August is National Immunization Awareness Month, which serves as a reminder for parents and caregivers to make sure their children's vaccinations are up to date in time for school in September.
"National Immunization Awareness Month is a good time for New Jerseyans of all ages to protect themselves and their communities by catching up on their vaccinations," said Health Commissioner Mary E. O'Dowd. "We never outgrow our need for immunizations-across the lifespan, from babies to seniors. In fact, immunization is a powerful tool that protects public health by reducing disease and saving lives."
Each week of National Immunization Awareness Month focuses on promoting vaccination of different groups:
Vaccines are safe, effective, and critically important for young children, who are especially vulnerable to vaccine-preventable diseases, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Most childhood vaccines should be given by age two, with some follow-up doses at ages four to six. Immunizations are also important for adults 60 years of age and older, and for those who have a chronic condition such as asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, diabetes or heart disease.
Immunization is also important for anyone who is in close contact with infants, senior citizens, people with weakened immune systems and those who cannot be vaccinated. Every adult should get the Tdap vaccine to protect against pertussis (whooping cough), tetanus and diptheria, and then a booster shot every 10 years. Pregnant women should get the Tdap vaccine during each pregnancy to protect their newborns.
The CDC recommends the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine for young women and men who have not yet received it. College students can protect themselves from meningococcal disease by getting the meningococcal vaccine, especially if they are in close settings with other students, such as living in campus dormitories. Additionally, everyone 6 months of age and older should have a flu vaccine every year.
Other vaccines for adults - shingles, pneumococcal, hepatitis - depend on one's age, occupation, travel, risk factors and health status. Residents should check with their health care provider on what vaccinations they may need.
For information about New Jersey's immunization requirements for child care, preschool, school, and college please visit http://nj.gov/health/cd/imm.shtml. Information about vaccines and recommended immunization schedules for all age groups is available through the CDC website www.cdc.gov/vaccines .
Each year in August, National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM) provides an opportunity to encourage all people to get immunized against infectious diseases. Throughout the month, Department staff will hold education sessions with health care providers and visit immunization clinics to promote vaccination.
The National Public Health Information Coalition, in collaboration with CDC, has developed a communication toolkit to highlight the importance of immunizations across the lifespan during the month of August. Visit www.nphic.org/niam for more information.