The back to school hustle slowly creeps up in August; but before you buy your kid pencils, notebooks and the backpack they “must have,” make sure that they—and you—are up to date with vaccinations and immunizations! The Center for Disease Control has dedicated this month to raise awareness of the benefits of immunization to prevent the spread of disease. National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM) encourages people to communicate the importance of protecting and defending lifelong health.
Schools are highly susceptible to outbreaks of infectious diseases because students can easily transmit illnesses to one another as a result of poor hand washing, uncovered coughs and dense populations. Because schools are a prime venue for transmitting vaccine-preventable diseases, most schools require children to be up-to-date on vaccinations before enrolling or starting school in order to protect the health of all students.
The National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM) Communication Toolkit was developed by the National Public Health Information Coalition, in collaboration with CDC, to help you communicate the importance of vaccination throughout the lifespan. Each week of NIAM will focus on a different stage of the lifespan:
- Preteens and Teens (Aug. 2-8)
- Pregnant Women (Aug. 9-15)
- Adults (Aug. 16-22)
- Infants and Children (Aug. 23-29)
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is also supporting NIAM, and has provided easy to read tables to help personalize vaccinations and immunizations schedules:
- If you have a child age 6 or younger, find out which shots your child needs.
- Find out which shots adults and teenagers need.
- Use this chart for adults to see if you are up to date on your shots.
- If you are pregnant, check out this recommended immunization schedule.
Thanks to past and present innovators, vaccines have saved millions of lives; but still, each year approximately 1.7 million children die from a vaccine-preventable disease, and the vast majority of these deaths occur in developing countries.
- In the past 60 years, vaccines helped eradicate one disease (smallpox) and are close to eradicating another (polio).
- Vaccines prevent more than 2.5 million deaths each year.
- New and underutilized vaccines could avert nearly 4 million deaths by the end of 2015.
- Currently there are vaccines available to combat 28 different diseases.
Head to your doctor and double check your immunization records because you, or loved ones, could be overdue for vaccinations. Start this school year off right to protect you and your family from illnesses tomorrow.