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PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
August 4, 2015

Cathleen D. Bennett
Acting Commissioner

For Further Information Contact:
Office of Communications
(609) 984-7160

August is National Immunization Awareness Month [en Español]

 NJ residents encouraged to make sure their vaccinations are up to date


National Immunization Awareness Month is an annual observance that highlights the need for vaccines throughout the lifespan to protect against serious, and sometimes deadly, diseases. Throughout August, New Jerseyans are encouraged to make sure they are up to date with their immunizations to protect themselves and others from vaccine-preventable diseases.

"During National Immunization Awareness Month, parents should make sure their children have received all of their vaccinations before the start of the school year," said Acting Health Commissioner Cathleen D. Bennett. "When children do not receive their age-appropriate vaccines, they are at increased risk for illness and can spread disease to others in their classroom and community."

Childhood vaccines protect against 14 serious diseases by the age of two. According to the 2013 National Immunization Survey (NIS), about 73 percent of New Jersey children ages 19 - 35 months completed their recommended vaccine series compared to the national average of approximately 70 percent. These vaccines provide protection against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (whooping cough), polio, measles, mumps and rubella (MMR), Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), hepatitis B, varicella (chickenpox), and pneumococcal disease. New Jersey has reached the Healthy People 2020 target for Polio, MMR, HepB and Varicella immunizations. It is also recommended that children get vaccinated against rotavirus and hepatitis A, and that everyone six months of age and older should receive the annual flu vaccine.

As children get older, they are at greater risk of getting certain diseases like meningitis and infections that can lead to human papilloma virus (HPV)-related cancers.  Additionally, some of the childhood vaccines wear off over time, so adolescents need their age-appropriate vaccinations to stay protected from serious diseases.  For these reasons, preteens and teens should receive tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis (Tdap), quadrivalent meningococcal conjugate (MenACWY), and HPV vaccines.

The need for vaccines doesn't end in childhood. All adults need a one-time dose of Tdap, and a tetanus, diphtheria (Td) booster shot every ten years. Pregnant women should receive the Tdap vaccine with each pregnancy, preferably at 27 through 36 weeks, to protect their babies from whooping cough. 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.

Certain vaccines are recommended for adults 60 years and older. The herpes zoster vaccine prevents shingles, a disease which almost 1 out of every 3 Americans will develop in their lifetime. Adults 65 and older are recommended to receive two pneumococcal vaccines. The need for other adult vaccines depends on one's age, occupation, travel, health status, and other risk factors.

"Vaccines have led to a significant decline in many diseases in the U.S. over the past few decades. We must continue to be vigilant about vaccination in light of recent cases of measles and mumps," said Deputy Commissioner Dr. Arturo Brito. "It's important for health care providers to talk to their patients about the vaccinations they need."

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 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website, www.cdc.gov/vaccines.

For more information about New Jersey's immunization requirements for child care, preschool, school, and college please visit http://nj.gov/health/cd/imm.shtml.

In recognition of National Immunization Awareness Month, the National Public Health Information Coalition, in collaboration with the CDC, has developed a toolkit that is available online at www.nphic.org/niam.

Follow the New Jersey Department of Health on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/NJDeptofhealth

Last Reviewed: 8/5/2015