PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
August 1, 2017

Cathleen D. Bennett
Commissioner

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

New Jersey Department of Health Celebrates Power of Immunizations throughout August

During National Immunization Awareness Month, the Department of Health is encouraging residents to make sure they are up-to-date with their immunizations to protect themselves and others from serious and sometimes deadly vaccine-preventable diseases. Vaccines are needed throughout the lifespan, from birth through adulthood.

“One of the most important things a parent can do to protect their child’s health is to stay up-to-date with the recommended childhood immunizations,” New Jersey Health Commissioner Cathleen D. Bennett said. “When children are not vaccinated, they are at increased risk for disease and can spread disease to others in their play groups, child care centers, classrooms, and communities.”

Childhood vaccines protect against 14 serious diseases by the age of two. These vaccines provide protection against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), polio, measles, mumps, rubella, Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), hepatitis B, varicella (chickenpox) and pneumococcal disease. New Jersey has reached the Healthy People 2020 target of 90 percent for: polio; measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR); hepatitis B; and varicella immunizations. It is also recommended that children get vaccinated against rotavirus and hepatitis A. Additionally, everyone six months of age and older should receive the annual flu shot.

As children get older, they are more likely to get certain diseases like meningococcal disease and infections that can lead to human papillomavirus (HPV) cancers. Preteens can be protected long before their risk of infection increases by getting recommended vaccines. Additionally, some childhood vaccines wear off over time, so booster shots are needed to help stay protected from serious diseases like tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends children who are 11 to 12 years old receive the tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis (Tdap), meningococcal conjugate (MenACWY) and HPV vaccines to protect them during adolescence. A booster dose of MenACWY is recommended at 16 years old. Teens and young adults (16 through 23-year-olds) may also be vaccinated with a serogroup B meningococcal vaccine, preferably between 16 and 18 years old.

To emphasize the continued need for vaccines throughout adulthood, New Jersey designated August as New Jersey’s Adult Vaccine-Preventable Disease Awareness and Improvement Month. Many New Jerseyans are not getting vaccinated to protect against vaccine-preventable diseases. Statewide and national adult immunization rates remain lower than childhood vaccination coverage.

All adults, including pregnant women, should get the flu vaccine each year to protect against seasonal influenza.  Every adult should have one dose of Tdap vaccine if they did not get Tdap as a teen, and then get the Td (tetanus and diphtheria) booster vaccine every 10 years. Pregnant women should receive a Tdap vaccine each time they are pregnant to protect their babies from whooping cough. Grandparents, caregivers and anyone around newborns should also make sure they received a Tdap. Adults 60 years and older are recommended to receive the shingles vaccine; those 65 and older are recommended to receive two pneumococcal vaccines.

“Immunizations are especially important for those who are in close contact with infants, seniors, people with weakened immune systems and those who cannot be vaccinated because of their age or certain medical conditions,” Commissioner Bennett said. “Everyone should have their vaccination needs assessed at their doctor’s office, pharmacy or other visits with health care providers.”

Additional vaccines may be recommended depending on a person’s age, occupation, medical conditions, vaccinations they have already received or other considerations. Those who are traveling abroad may need additional vaccines. Check the CDC travel website available at www.cdc.gov/travel for more information.

In recognition of National Immunization Awareness Month, the Department encourages health professionals to organize and participate in activities that promote the importance of immunizations. The National Public Health Information Coalition, in collaboration with the CDC, has developed a toolkit that is available online at https://www.nphic.org/niam.  A list of events taking place throughout NJ is available at https://nj.gov/health/cd/documents/niam_2017.pdf.

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 https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/index.html.

Follow the New Jersey Department of Health on Twitter @njdeptofhealth, Facebook /njdeptofhealth, Instagram @njdeptofhealth and Snapchat @njdoh.

For more information, visit our homepage at nj.gov/health.

Last Reviewed: 8/1/2017