The month of August has been designated as National Immunization Awareness Month. As a partnering organization, the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) is helping to promote the importance of immunization in keeping our communities healthy.
Back-to-school season is here. It’s time for parents to gather school supplies and backpacks. It’s also the perfect time to make sure your kids are up-to-date on their vaccines.
Getting children all of the vaccines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is one of the most important things parents can do to protect their children’s health—and that of their classmates and the entire community. Most schools require children to be current on vaccinations before enrolling to protect the health of all students.
Today’s childhood vaccines protect against serious and potentially life-threatening diseases, including polio, measles, whooping cough, and chickenpox.
“Thanks to vaccines, most of these diseases have become rare in the United States,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat, Director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. “But many still exist here, and they can make children very sick, leading to many days of missed school, missed work for parents, and even hospitalization and death.”
In 2011, there were more than 200 cases of measles reported in the United States. In 2010, about 27,550 cases of whooping cough (pertussis) were reported, and 25 people died from the disease. “Without vaccines, these numbers would be much, much higher,” Dr. Schuchat said. “That’s why kids still need vaccines.”
When children are unvaccinated, they are at increased risk of disease and can spread diseases to others—including babies who are too young to be fully vaccinated and people with weakened immune systems due to cancer and other health conditions.
The good news is that vaccines are available to protect school-age children from disease. For example, kids between 4-6 years old need boosters of four vaccines: DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis), chickenpox, MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella), and polio. Older children, including pre-teens and teens, need Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis), HPV (human papillomavirus), and MCV (meningococcal conjugate virus) vaccines. In addition, annual flu vaccines are recommended for all children age 6 months and older.
Check with your child’s doctor to find out which vaccines they need. Additional information about the recommended immunization schedule is available at http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents/index.html.
Learn more about vaccines across the lifespan at the upcoming NFID Clinical Vaccinology Course scheduled for November 15-17, 2013 in Cambridge, MA. Yale School of Medicine’s Dr. Marietta Vazquez will present an update on the pertussis vaccine and Dr. Amy B. Middleman from the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine will be discussing strategies for success in adolescent immunization.