The last week of April was World Immunization Week, but August is National Immunization Awareness Month for the US. This is the time of year when children and teenagers are heading back to school, infants are entering preschools or day care programs, and many adults are heading into college or continuing their careers in the work force. Regardless of the situation, the need for getting vaccinated is important to be aware of year round.
According to Marvin M. Lipman, MD, Consumer Reports’ chief medical advisor, “Each year, at least 30,000 people die from complications related to vaccine-preventable diseases.” The onset of immunity and its duration varies from vaccine to vaccine. There are vaccines that are good for ten years, five years, and even vaccines that need to be renewed yearly. Dr. Lipman states, “Getting the right shots doesn’t guarantee that you won’t get sick, but it will significantly improve your odds.”
Even if a person is vaccinated as a child the ability to fend off vaccine-preventable diseases may begin to lessen. Vaccines boosters are used to build immunity against illnesses and others protect against common adulthood illness. Often people wonder what is the need for an already healthy person to be vaccinated; vaccination in adulthood is beneficial because as people grow older they are not as effectively able to form antibodies to fend off illness as well as younger people are.
Vaccinations help keep diseases such as polio and measles in check. Fifteen years ago, measles was declared eradicated in the United States by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Since that time there have more than 120 cases of measles, including an outbreak earlier this year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that with vaccines they will save 732,000 lives and prevent 21 million hospital visits for anyone born in the last 20 years. With all of this in mind, it is clear that immunization awareness is an important matter for Americans of all ages.
As mentioned in our previous articles, many Americans avoid medical care due to financial costs. NeedyMeds lists over 2500 clinics that offer immunizations, which can be found by searching your zip code in the Free/Low-Cost/Sliding Scale Clinics area of our site. Often vaccinations as well as flu shots are offered at most local pharmacies in early August and throughout the flu season.
- Clemmons, N. S., Gastanaduy, P. A., Fiebelkorn, A. P., Redd, S. B., & Wallace, G. S. (2015). Measles – United States, january 4-april 2, 2015. MMWR: Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report, 64(14), 373-376.
- The Power of Understanding. (2015). Popular Science, 286(4), 4.