National Immunization Awareness Month
August is National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM). The goal of NIAM is to increase awareness about immunizations across the lifespan, from infants to the elderly. August is an ideal time to make sure everyone is up-to-date on vaccines before heading back to school and to plan ahead to receive flu vaccine.
AAP's consumer site, healthychildren.org is highlighting a new series of articles, Medicine Before Vaccines, written by senior pediatricians. These articles will remind parents what pediatric medicine was like before immunizations were available to protect against diseases like chickenpox, measles, meningitis, and human papilloma virus (HPV). The vaccines we now have give parents the safe, proven power to protect their children when they need it.
NIAM targets a specific population each week during the month. See below.
Preteen and Teen (Aug 2-8)
National Immunization Awareness Month begins with a focus on immunizations for preteens and teens. Use key messages as the basis for talking points, presentations, media interviews, news releases, social media messages or outreach materials.
- Preteens and teens are at risk for diseases like meningitis and HPV cancers and need the protection of vaccines to keep them healthy.
- Vaccines are recommended for preteens and teens because:
- Some of the childhood vaccines wear off over time, so adolescents need shots to stay protected from serious diseases like tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough).
- As children get older, they are at greater risk of getting certain diseases like meningitis, septicemia (blood infection), and infections that can lead to HPV cancers.
- Specific vaccines, like HPV vaccine, should be given during the preteen (11 to 12) years because they provide more protection when given at that age.
- Vaccines not only help protect preteens and teens from serious diseases, but also their siblings, friends and the people who care for them, like their parents or grandparents.
- Vaccines do more than protect your child. Some diseases, like whooping cough and the flu, can be deadly for newborns or infants who are too young to be vaccinated themselves. You can help protect our littlest community members from being exposed to vaccine-preventable diseases by making sure your child gets all the vaccines recommended.
- Vaccines are among the safest and most cost-effective ways to prevent disease. Protecting your children from preventable diseases will help keep them healthy and in school.
- When a child comes down with a disease such as whooping cough or the flu, they may miss a lot of school while recovering. A sick child may also mean that a parent may miss work or other important events.
- Schools are a prime venue for transmitting many vaccine-preventable diseases, and school-age children can further spread disease to their families and others with whom they come in contact.
View more on immunizations preteens and teens (Exit site).
CDC provides a “Tips and Time-savers for Talking with Parents about HPV Vaccine” resource that translates research into effective communication tools.
Other Adolescent Resources
Pregnant Women (Aug 9-15)
Vaccines are an important component of a healthy pregnancy. Women should be up to date on their vaccines before becoming pregnant, and should receive vaccines against both the flu and whooping cough (pertussis) during pregnancy. These vaccines not only protect the mother by preventing illnesses and complications, but also pass on vaccine protection to her unborn child.
- Before becoming pregnant, a woman should be up-to-date on routine adult vaccines to help protect her and her child from vaccine-preventable diseases like rubella.
- There are two vaccines routinely recommended during pregnancy: flu (to protect against influenza) and Tdap (to protect against whooping cough).
- Vaccines protect you against serious diseases and prevent you from passing diseases on to your baby after birth.
- The vaccines you get during pregnancy will provide your baby with some disease protection (immunity) that will last the first few months of life.
- During your pregnancy, you can start learning about the safe, proven disease protection that vaccines provide for your baby.
- Breastfeeding moms can also receive some vaccinations.
More detailed key messages and other resources for vacincating pregnant mothers are available. (Exit site).
Adults (Aug 16-22)
All adults should get vaccines to protect their health. Even healthy adults can become seriously ill, and can pass certain illnesses on to others. Immunization is especially important for older adults and for adults with chronic conditions such as asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), diabetes or heart disease. Immunization is also important for anyone who is in close contact with the very young, the very old, people with weakened immune systems, and those who cannot be vaccinated.
- Vaccines are an important step in protecting adults against
several serious, and sometimes deadly, diseases.
- The need for vaccination does not end in childhood. Vaccines are recommended throughout our lives based on age, lifestyle, occupation, locations of travel, medical conditions and vaccines received in the past.
- The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) updates vaccines recommended for adults each year based on the latest research on vaccine safety, effectiveness, and patterns of vaccine-preventable diseases
- Every year, thousands of adults in the U.S. needlessly suffer, are hospitalized, and even die from diseases that could be
prevented by vaccines.
- Vaccines are recommended for adults to prevent serious diseases such as influenza, shingles, pneumonia caused by pneumococcal bacteria, hepatitis, and whooping cough.
- Some vaccines can help prevent cancer. Hepatitis B vaccine can prevent liver cancer that can develop after developing chronic hepatitis B. The HPV vaccine can prevent cancers caused by HPV infection, including cervical, vaginal, vulvar and anal cancer.
- Vaccination is important because it not only protects the person receiving the vaccine, but also helps prevent the spread of diseases to others –especially those who are most vulnerable to serious complications, such as infants and young children, the elderly, and those with chronic conditions and weakened immune systems.
- Most adults have probably not received all the vaccines they need.
- Unfortunately, far too few adults are receiving the recommended vaccines, leaving themselves and their loved ones vulnerable to serious diseases.
- Adults should talk with their doctors to learn which vaccines are recommended for them, and take steps to stay up to date.
- Vaccines are available at private doctors’ offices, as well as other convenient locations such as pharmacies, workplaces, community health clinics and health departments.
- Vaccines are very safe.
- Vaccines are thoroughly tested before licensing and carefully monitored even after they are licensed to ensure that they are very safe.
- Side effects from vaccines are usually mild and temporary. Some people may have allergic reactions to certain vaccines, but serious and long-term side effects are rare.
Learn more from the NIAM Toolkit (Exit site).
Infants & Children (Aug 23-29)
Vaccines give parents the safe, proven power to protect their children from serious diseases. Parents can provide the best protection by following the recommended immunization schedule – giving their child the vaccines they need, when they need them.
- Vaccines give parents the safe, proven power to protect their children from 14 serious diseases before they turn 2 years old.
- Vaccinating your children according to the recommended schedule is one of the best ways you can protect them from 14 harmful and potentially deadly disease like measles and whooping cough (pertussis) before their second birthday.
- Children who don’t receive recommended vaccines are at risk of 1) getting the disease or illness, and 2) having a severe case of the disease or illness. You can’t predict or know in advance if an unvaccinated child will get a vaccine-preventable disease, nor can you predict or know how severe the illness will be or become.
- Vaccines don’t just protect your child. Immunization is a shared responsibility. Families, healthcare professionals and public health officials must work together to help protect the entire community – especially babies who are too young to be vaccinated themselves.
- Most parents choose the safe, proven protection of vaccines and are vaccinating their children according to the recommended immunization schedule. Estimates from a CDC nationally representative childhood vaccine communications poll (July 2014 online poll) suggest that most people are vaccinating according to schedule or are intending to do so.
- In fact, 88.9% of parents reported that they are vaccinating according to schedule or are intending to do so.
- Most young parents in the U.S. have never seen the devastating effects that diseases like measles or whooping cough (pertussis) can have on a family or community. It's easy to think of these as diseases of the past. But the truth is they still exist.
- Many vaccine preventable diseases are only a plane ride away. For example, measles is still common in many parts of the world. The disease is brought into the United States by unvaccinated travelers who are infected while in other countries. When measles gets into communities of unvaccinated people in the U.S. (such as people who refuse vaccines for religious, philosophical or personal reasons), outbreaks are more likely to occur.
- Since measles was declared eliminated in the United States in2000, the annual number of people reported to have measles ranged from a low of 37 people in 2004 to a high of 668 people in 2014. In 2014 there were 23 outbreaks affecting 668 people from 27 states.
- This year, measles continues to affect the United States with over 178 cases reported as of June 26, 2015. Most of the reported measles cases occurred in people who were not vaccinated or who did not know whether they were vaccinated.
- Outbreaks of whooping cough (pertussis) have also occurred in the United States over the past few years. There are many factors contributing to the recent increase in whooping cough, but getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent whooping cough and its complications.
- Vaccines offer the best-known protection against many devastating illnesses. Following the recommended immunization schedule is the best way to ensure your children are protected from deadly diseases.
- Children do not receive any known benefits from following schedules that delay vaccines. We do know that delaying vaccines puts children at known risk of becoming ill with vaccine-preventable diseases. Infants and young children who follow immunization schedules that spread out shots – or leave out shots – are at risk of developing diseases during the time that shots are delayed.
- If a young child falls behind the recommended schedule, parents and health care professionals should use the catch-up immunization schedule to quickly get the child up to date, reducing the amount of time the child is left vulnerable to vaccine-preventable diseases.
- Talk to your doctor or other healthcare professional to make sure your children get the vaccinations they need when they need them.
- Health care professionals are parents’ most trusted source of information about vaccines for their children. They play a critical role in supporting parents in understanding and choosing vaccines.
- Families who need help paying for childhood vaccines should ask their health care professional about the Vaccines for Children program, which provides vaccines at no cost to eligible children who do not otherwise have access to recommended childhood vaccines.
- Parents should check their child’s immunization records to make sure they are up to date on all recommended vaccinations. Parents with questions are encouraged to talk with their child’s health care professional to see if any catch-up doses are needed.
- Vaccines are among the safest and most cost-effective ways to prevent disease.
- Vaccines are thoroughly tested before licensing and carefully monitored after they are licensed to ensure that they are very safe.
- Vaccines are among the safest and most cost-effective ways to prevent disease. They not only protect vaccinated individuals but also help protect entire communities by preventing and reducing the spread of infectious diseases.
- Currently the United States has the safest, most effective vaccine supply in its history. The country’s long-standing vaccine safety system ensures that vaccines are as safe as possible.