August is National Immunization Awareness Month. Immunizations, also knows as vaccines or shots, are one of the greatest public health successes of the 20th century. Vaccines give parents the power to protect their children from serious diseases. One of the most important things a parent can do to protect their child’s health is to get their child vaccinated according to the recommended immunization schedule. There are vaccines that people should get when they are babies, children, teenagers, and when they are adults.
Why are vaccines important?
Vaccines give parents the safe, proven power to protect their children from 14 serious diseases. Vaccinating your children according to the recommended schedule is one of the best ways you can protect them from harmful and even deadly diseases like measles and whooping cough (pertussis). Also, thousands of adults in the U.S. become ill even die from infectious diseases like the flu that could be prevented by vaccines.
Are these diseases still a problem?
Many vaccine-preventable diseases are still common in many parts of the world. For example, measles is brought into the United States by unvaccinated travelers who are infected while in other countries. The CDC estimates that the flu has caused over 10 million illnesses, up to 700,000 hospitalizations, and between 12,000 and 56,000 deaths every year since 2010.
Are vaccines safe?
Vaccines are very safe. Vaccines are thoroughly tested before they are used on patients, and carefully monitored after they are used, to look for any rare safety risks. Side effects from vaccines are usually mild and temporary. There are national systems that doctors use to track any side effects and monitor the safety of vaccines.
When do I need a vaccine?
Vaccinations happen at different times during your life. They are not only for small children, adults need some as well. For children and teens, most parents (9/10) choose to vaccinate their children according to the recommended immunization schedule. For adults, the CDC’s vaccine quiz can help you figure out what immunization you need at your age. The CDC’s childhood immunization schedule can be found here https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/hcp/imz/child-adolescent.html. The adult immunization schedule can be found here https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/hcp/imz/adult.html.
This post adapted from the National Immunization Awareness Month 2018 Toolkit.