Immunization Awareness Month and the Importance of Immunizations

We've been taught since we were young about how important it is to stay up to date on all of the major immunizations. If it wasn't for the availability of immunizations throughout our lifetimes, diseases and sicknesses such as Measles, Mumps, Rubella and Polio would still be a threat to the population. Many of us might not be here today, if these immunizations weren't invented, or as readily available as they are.

The government and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have dubbed every August as National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM). You can also visit the CDC's official website for informational toolkits to help raise awareness about the importance of immunizations. They focus on the immunizations that are important for babies and toddlers to receive, those for school age children, young adults, and older adults.

The toolkits are designed to be used in doctor's offices, clinics and hospitals to encourage and remind patients to stay up to date on immunizations, and to make sure their children are vaccinated against dangerous illnesses.

To help raise awareness, health care providers and patients alike, can talk to others during National Immunization Awareness Month, as well as throughout the year. You can also help educate people on the different types of vaccines.

Some vaccines are weakened forms of a virus, such as the measles mumps and rubella vaccine. Others are dead versions of the virus or bacteria, such as the one used to prevent polio. Some contain an inactivated toxin from the bacterium, like the one found in tetanus vaccine, or just parts of a bacteria combined with proteins, like the Hib vaccine.

Immunizations aren't just things that are required for a child to go to Kindergarten, or to advance to the next grade level. They are made mandatory by most schools, because the immunizations given during early childhood have stopped most of the devastating diseases that used to exist in the United States. Children can now receive the immunization to prevent chicken pox. This is one of the newer immunizations that have become widely available.

Some immunizations are targeted mostly to certain age groups, and those with certain chronic diseases. It's recommended that all people receive the flu shot every year, starting in October. People with chronic lung diseases, such as COPD (chronic bronchitis or emphysema) and asthma, as well as babies and the elderly are recommended the most to receive the flu shot every year as soon as the flu season starts.

The flu affects individuals with compromised lungs or compromised immune systems more severely than others. The elderly, or those with chronic lung diseases are also encouraged to get the pneumonia shot, but this only needs to be administered every 5 years for the patient to stay protected.

For more information, please visit http://www.nphic.org/niam.

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