August is National Immunization Awareness Month
August is National Immunization Awareness Month, a good time for New Jerseyans of all ages to protect themselves and their communities by getting up-to-date on their vaccinations. This annual observance highlights the importance of immunizations across the lifespan.
"National Immunization Awareness Month serves as a reminder for parents to make sure their children get the immunizations they need before returning to school," said Health Commissioner Mary E. O'Dowd. "Schools are a prime venue for transmitting vaccine-preventable diseases and vaccinations create a shield of protection to help all children stay healthy."
Each week of National Immunization Awareness Month focuses on promoting vaccination of different groups:
Childhood vaccines protect against 14 serious diseases by the age of two. According to the 2012 National Immunization Survey (NIS), nearly 75 percent of New Jersey children ages 19 - 35 months received the recommended vaccine doses compared to the national average of approximately 72 percent. These vaccines provide protection against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (whooping cough), polio, measles, mumps and rubella, Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), hepatitis B, and chickenpox. It is also recommended that children get vaccinated against rotavirus, hepatitis A and pneumococcal disease and everyone six months of age and older can get annual flu shots.
Children who are 11 to 12 years of age should receive the Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis) vaccine, meningococcal conjugate vaccine, and human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine.
Immunizations are not just for kids. Every adult should get the Tdap vaccine once. Women should receive the vaccine each time they are pregnant to protect their babies against whooping cough. Adults should receive a Td booster shot every 10 years. Tdap may be given as one of these boosters if the individual has not already gotten a dose.
"Immunization is also important for anyone who is in close contact with infants, seniors, people with weakened immune systems, and those who cannot be vaccinated," said Deputy Commissioner Dr. Arturo Brito. "That is why it is important for all health care professionals to routinely assess their patients and make a strong recommendation for needed vaccinations. It is also important for all health care professionals to make sure they have all the recommended vaccines themselves."
In recognition of National Immunization Awareness Month, the New Jersey Department of Health encourages health professionals to organize and participate in activities that promote the importance of immunizations. The National Public Health Information Coalition, in collaboration with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has developed a toolkit that is available online at www.nphic.org/niam.
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, recommended immunization schedules for all age groups and the Vaccines for Children Program (a federally funded program that provides vaccines at no cost to children of low-income families) can be found at the CDC website at www.cdc.gov/vaccines.