Vaccines play a crucial role in preventing life-threatening diseases. August is National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM), a yearly observance to bring awareness to the importance of vaccinations.
Why are vaccines necessary?
- Vaccines protect you from severe, sometimes even deadly, diseases.
- Vaccines protect the person receiving the vaccine and help prevent the spread of disease to others.
- There are two ways you can become immune to a disease: getting the disease and fighting it off or getting a vaccine. With a vaccine, you don’t have to get sick before becoming immune.
- Vaccines protect entire communities by making it possible to achieve herd immunity.
What is herd immunity?
Herd immunity is reached when enough people in a community are immune to a disease that others, even unvaccinated, are indirectly protected. Germs can spread quickly through a community and cause an outbreak; however, the infection can’t spread as easily when enough people are vaccinated.
Getting vaccinated is especially important to protect vulnerable groups who can’t receive vaccines, such as those with weakened immune systems or other health conditions. Members of these vulnerable groups rely on others in the community to get vaccinated to stay healthy.
Vaccines for Children
When babies are born, their immune systems are not fully developed. While they can fight off most germs, there are some life-threatening diseases they are unable to handle.
Diseases can spread quickly among children, especially those who attend daycare, play in groups, or do other activities where multiple children are present.
- When an infant is old enough, they can receive vaccinations that protect against 14 different diseases.
- Once they are six months old, they will be eligible for their yearly flu vaccine.
- At four to six years old, they will need to get additional doses of vaccines they received when they were younger.
- Children will receive additional vaccines at 11-12 and 13-years old.
- The CDC breaks down which vaccines your child should be getting by age here.
Vaccines for Adults
Adults need to stay on top of their vaccinations throughout their lives because immunity from childhood vaccines can wear off over time.
- It is recommended for all adults to receive the flu vaccine every year.
- Adults also need the Td or Tdap (Tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis) vaccine.
- The shingles vaccine is recommended for healthy adults over 50.
- This helpful quiz can help you figure out which vaccines you may need.
The COVID-19 Vaccine
The CDC now recommends that people 12 years of age and older receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Widespread vaccination against COVID-19 is crucial to achieve herd immunity and stop the pandemic. Additionally, pregnant people are at an increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 when compared to non-pregnant people. Here’s what the CDC recommends for pregnant and recently pregnant individuals.
Observe National Immunization Awareness Month With Us
August is the perfect time to ensure you and your children are staying up-to-date with your vaccine schedules. Start making a plan for this year’s flu vaccine, schedule a COVID-19 vaccine if you haven’t already done so, and take a look at the CDC’s vaccine schedules by age group.