As children begin a new school year, healthcare professionals are joining in the national effort to promote National Immunization Awareness Month in August. August is usually a good time for this reminder, as parents of school-age children must ensure vaccinations are up-to-date for a specific age or grade.
According to the Santa Barbara Department of Public Health, California law requires students to receive certain immunizations in order to attend public and private elementary and secondary schools as well as licensed child care centers.
Since the first vaccine – Smallpox – was developed 222 years ago, vaccines have provided protection from serious and potentially life-threatening illness, including flu, whooping cough and HPV cancers. National Immunization Awareness Month is not only about making sure schoolchildren have the necessary vaccines, but adults as well. While youngsters should be vaccinated against Chickenpox; Diphtheria, Tetanus and Pertussis (DTaP); flu; measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) and polio, adults have other concerns as they age.
The Centers for Disease Control recommends everyone get a flu vaccine annually before the end of October. Adults should also make sure to receive a tetanus and diphtheria vaccine every 10 years. Likewise, healthy adults, ages 50 and older, should make sure to get a shingles vaccine.
Adults age 65 and older should schedule one dose of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine followed by one dose of pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine. While those younger than 65, with health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer or HIV should also get one or both of those vaccines. It is best to contact your primary care physician if you have any questions specific to your own medical history.
The CDC also suggests that adults may need other vaccines based on health conditions, job, lifestyle or travel habits. If you’re at all uncertain about what vaccines you might need, the CDC offers a comprehensive list of age-specific recommended shots at www.cdc.gov/vaccines.
Since the Smallpox vaccine emerged in 1796, common diseases such as
polio, measles, diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), rubella (German measles), mumps, tetanus, rotavirus, pneumococcal disease and flu can now be prevented by vaccination.
Did you know that because of the advent of vaccines, the lifespan of the average American has increased by more than 30 years? But that doesn’t mean it’s time to let our guard down. The viruses and bacteria that cause illness and death still exist, notes the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases.
Every year, approximately 50,000 US adults die from vaccine-preventable diseases in the US. This is the time to make sure you are current on all the vaccinations that are suggested for your age group.