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Staying Ahead of Sickness


National Immunization Awareness Month spotlights the importance of vaccines.


HealthCheckImmunizationIn summer, the last thing on your mind is getting sick. But the National Public Health Information Coalition has set aside August as the perfect time to immunize to get ready for back-to-school and flu season.

National Immunization Awareness Month is an official observance held this month every year to highlight the importance of vaccination — and being up to date on shots — for people of all ages. NIAM’s main goal is to raise vaccine awareness to help communities prevent serious (and sometimes deadly) diseases.

Young and Old: Are your shots up to date?
Getting vaccinated is not just for babies. There’s a series of shots and boosters throughout the human lifespan that can protect the body from illness.

Parents can protect infants and children from 14 serious childhood diseases with up-to-date shots. There were 18,000 cases of whooping cough reported to the Centers for Disease Control last year, and measles is on the rise. Ask your healthcare provider about the vaccines your baby and young children need to protect them.

Preteens and teens need booster shots and are recommended to have meningococcal conjugate vaccine to protect against meningitis. Talk to your doctor to see if the HPV shot — to protect against sexually transmitted human papillomavirus — is right for your family.

If you’re an adult, and you’re not sure if your immunization schedule is up to date, take the online quiz at www2.cdc.gov/nip/adultimmsched. Seniors may need boosters, a pneumonia vaccination and a shingles shot.

Special Situations: At-risk communities need vaccinations.
Several subsets of the population have special needs when it comes to immunizing for disease. Those who should speak with their doctor include:
College students
Adults with chronic conditions
Pregnant women
Stem cell and bone marrow transplant patients
Also those with questions, concerns or doubts about vaccines might consider researching herd immunity and rising disease rates with the growth of the anti-vaccination movement.

The Flu Vaccine: It’s that time of year again.
In August, as summer winds down and the annual vaccine first becomes available, it’s a good time for you and your family to make plans to get the flu vaccine. Getting the vaccine early can help prevent you and your family members from getting the flu throughout all of flu season.

The CDC’s immunization advisory committee recommends the flu vaccine: for everyone over 6 months of age; shot over the nasal spray; annually as the vaccine is tailored to match anticipated flu strains; and to help decrease the approximately 20,000 annual flu hospitalizations for children under 5 years of age.

Learn more about the flu and flu vaccine at flu.gov, and for more information about NIAM and immunizations, visit vaccines.gov.