August is designated by the Centers for Disease Control as National Immunization Awareness Month. Dr. Anne Schuchat, Director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunizations and Respiratory Diseases states, “Immunization is one of the single most important steps parents can take to help assure their children grow up to be strong and healthy.”
Communities and cities are already reminding parents through the media such as newspapers, radio, and television to take their children for the immunization shots now, to be ready for the beginning of school. Because of the fact that so many people wait until the last minute, schools are announcing that children will not be admitted without proof that they have received the proper vaccines. It is hard to understand why parents procrastinate about taking their children for these vaccines, when in many cases, there is no cost to them.
Here is a list furnished by the CDC of preventable diseases for children, thanks to vaccines:
- Haemophilus influenza type b (Hib)
- Hepatitis B
- Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
- Meningococcal Mumps
- Pertussis (whooping cough)
- Rubella (German measles)
- Tetanus (lockjaw)
- Varicella (chickenpox)
Some adults think that vaccines that they got when they were children will protect them for the rest of their lives, but consider these factors:
- Some never were vaccinated as children;
- Newer vaccines were not available when they were children;
- Immunizations may have faded over time;
- With age, we become more susceptible to serious disease caused by common infections, (i.e., flu, pneumonia).
It’s wise to remember that young adults to senior citizens can benefit from immunizations. Vaccines are recommended to adolescents and adults based on factors such as age, health status and medical history. Some vaccines are vital to most adults, especially senior citizens. Others are not appropriate for persons with underlying health issues. Your physician can advise you. The following diseases can affect persons over 65 very seriously: diphtheria, Herpes Zoster (shingles), pneumonia, flu, and tetanus.
If you plan to travel outside the United States, you need to visit with your physician at least 4 weeks prior to your vacation or business trip. Certain vaccines take a period of time to become effective. There are three types of vaccines in regard to travel – routine, recommended, and required. You may be exposed to certain diseases in foreign countries that are uncommon in the U.S.
If you have children, be sure all their shots are current. Years ago, people died from diseases that are now preventable. No one enjoys getting stuck by a needle, but it’s a small price to pay for good health.