Each August, our nation recognizes and celebrates the tremendous impact vaccines have had on people worldwide. Vaccines have been credited with preventing more than 2.5 million deaths annually by protecting us from countless diseases and health complications. Despite the proven results of vaccine safety and effectiveness, some vaccination rates in the U.S. fall below those of developing nations. For example, Seattle has a lower polio vaccination rate than Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Sudan, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, and Yemen, to name a few. By celebrating National Immunization Awareness Month, our goal is to remind people that vaccinations are important at all stages of life, from infancy to elderly.
August is an opportune time to call attention to immunizations with back-to-school just around the corner. Staying up to date on vaccines is one of the most important preventative steps that can be taken to care for youth, especially given the prevalence of infectious diseases at schools and childcare centers. While the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provides guidance on immunizations, individual states have varying vaccine requirements. Now is the time to remind parents to check up on their child’s vaccine schedules and records to ensure they’re on-track for the start of school.
Not just for children, vaccinations are imperative for adults, too. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only 21% of adults 19 to 64 years old at high-risk for pneumonia were vaccinated against the disease in 2013, despite an effectiveness rate of over 90%. Each year, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices updates the recommended vaccines for adults based on the latest research and evidence. Vaccines that are typically recommended for adults include influenza, shingles, pneumonia, hepatitis, and pertussis (whooping cough).
Vaccines are a crucial step in protecting against serious and potentially deadly infectious diseases, and should be considered a lifelong priority. The CDC considers immunizations one of the most important public health accomplishments of the 20th century. Unfortunately, some people aren’t aware of the importance of vaccines. Strong clinician recommendations are one of the best ways for patients to stay up-to-date on their vaccines. To help have effective discussions on the benefits of vaccines, the CDC offers exceptional guides for clinicians.