Submitted by the Niagara County Department of Health
August is National Immunization Awareness Month. The purpose of this observance is to highlight the importance of immunizations, one of the top 10 public health accomplishments of the 20th century, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This observance highlights the need for improving national immunization coverage levels for adults and children, and encourages all people to protect their health by being immunized against infectious diseases.
This is a great opportunity to remind people of all ages that vaccines are one way to protect themselves and others in their community by providing herd immunity. If you protect yourself, you can also protect those around you.
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 adults 60 years of age and older, and for those who have a chronic condition such as asthma, emphysema, 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. In addition, women should get the Tdap (tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis) vaccine every pregnancy - preferably at 27 to 36 weeks. The partner and household members of a pregnant woman should also be vaccinated for pertussis prior to the baby's birth.
The need for other adult vaccines such as shingles, pneumococcal, hepatitis and HPV depends on one's age, occupation, travel, health status and other risk factors. It is also important to consider vaccines when traveling outside of the U.S.
Infants, adolescents and teens should also be up to date on their vaccines. Vaccines give parents the safe, proven power to protect their children from 14 serious diseases before they turn 2.
Summer is the time to get children caught up on their vaccines before school starts again in the fall. Parents of college students should also be reminded of the importance of getting the meningococcal vaccine if they will be living in dorms while away from home. Schools are highly susceptible to outbreaks of infectious diseases, because students can easily transmit illnesses to one another as a result of poor hand washing, uncovered coughs and dense populations.
Every dose of vaccine is important to protect against infectious diseases such as the flu, measles and whooping cough (pertussis). When children are not vaccinated, they are at increased risk for disease, and can spread disease to others in their classroom and community - including babies who are too young to be fully vaccinated and people with weakened immune systems due to cancer and other health conditions.
The Niagara County Department of Health nursing division provides immunizations for adults, infants and children. To inquire about vaccinations or to schedule an appointment, call 716-278-1903.