Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Health Care and National Immunization Awareness Month

Vaccinations are a hot topic, especially for mothers of infants, children and teens, and pediatricians. August is declared National Immunization Awareness Month by the American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP), and health officials are urging parents to make sure kids are vaccinated before heading back to school this month and in September. 

Children need to be up to date on their immunizations, or obtain a waiver from their local health department. This month is the perfect time to get a head start on booking an appointment with a pediatrician.

The AAP has also provides impressive statistics and answering important questions about immunizations for parents. The statistics include:

·         Out of 1,000 U.S. children who will catch the measles, one to three of them will die.
·         The average number of annual cases of measles in the 20th century in the United States was over a half million. In 2010, thanks to successful vaccines, there were only 63 cases.
·         38% of children younger than 5 years who had measles required hospitalization.
·         85% of babies born to mothers who had rubella in the first trimester will have birth defects.
·         More than 95% of people who receive MMR (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella) vaccine become immune to all three diseases.

According to the AAP, 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.

Vaccines are also 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.  For more details about this issue, go to this site: https://www2.aap.org/immunization/about/niam.html

Immunization helps prevent dangerous and sometimes deadly diseases. To stay protected against serious illnesses like the flu, measles, and pneumonia, adults need to get their shots – just like kids do. Additionally, companies should also make note of the need to have healthy employees this month. According to WellNation, employers can take steps to encourage physical exams and immunizations in a variety of ways, including:

·         Provide coverage for preventive health screenings. A common barrier to scheduling a physical exam or screening is the fear of it being a large expense. By communicating the insurance coverage related to preventive exams and immunizations, it can help ease this concern and make employees more likely to complete them.

·         Offer your employees the convenience of vaccinations right at work. Collaborate with a local health organization to provide an onsite immunization clinic, such as a flu-shot clinic each fall.

·         Provide vaccination or preventive screenings cards to employees to keep in their wallet or their health file. This can help employees keep record of which items they have completed or need to schedule.

Use this month to raise awareness about vaccines and share strategies to increase immunization rates with your community, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Here are just a few ideas:

·         Talk to friends and family members about how vaccines aren’t just for kids. People of all ages can get shots to protect them from serious diseases.
·         Encourage people in your community to get the flu vaccine every year.
·         Invite a doctor or nurse to speak to parents about why it’s important for all kids to get vaccinated.

National Immunization Awareness Month is a great time to promote vaccines and remind family, friends, and coworkers to stay up to date on their shots. For more details, visit this website: http://healthfinder.gov/NHO/Augusttoolkit.aspx .

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), each year in August, National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM) provides an opportunity to highlight the value of immunization across the lifespan. Activities focus on encouraging all people to protect their health by being vaccinated against infectious diseases. In 2015, the National Public Health Information Coalition (NPHIC) is coordinating NIAM activities. More detailed material can be found at this website: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/events/niam.html .

There are some parents and other health proponents who disagree with vaccinations, feeling that they do more harm than good. Until very recently, the US had just about eradicated many of the communicable diseases over the past fifty years. Now, with new unvaccinated individuals coming into the country from areas that have less stringent healthcare controls, and from a certain nominal no-vaccination movement--largely based more on fiction than fact--these diseases have shown up in certain regional outbreaks and are very difficult to control.

One recent example is the measles outbreak that started last December in Disneyland Park in California and was tracked back to human carriers who had not been immunized. Many individuals were exposed and developed the disease, which is highly contagious. It eventually spread to a half-dozen U.S. states, Mexico and Canada. The outbreak sickened 147 people in the U.S., including 131 in California. There were no deaths, even though many were hospitalized. The event took several months to contain until it was declared controlled.

Do yourself and your family a favor. Get your vaccinations up to date this month. Employers should also use NIAM to keep their workforce happy and healthy. Immunizations are for your own protection.


Until next time. 

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