August is National Immunization Awareness Month!
National Immunization Awareness Month, or NIAM, was created by the National Public Health Information Coalition (NPHIC). In August, NIAM is celebrated to encourage the vaccination of people of all ages. During this month, the NPHIC, in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), produce “toolkits” each week to communicate information on immunization at each stage of life. These toolkits are available online and are broken down into five subsets to offer in-depth information on how and what to communicate to each age range or situation from infants to pregnant women.
With recent backlash against the immunization process, NIAM is important to celebrate in August when kids are heading back to school. A breeding ground for new diseases, children who are not vaccinated can spread diseases and new forms of diseases like the measles, the flu, and even diphtheria. To combat this problem, all 50 states have laws requiring the immunization for school-aged children against specific diseases. Though these laws have helped increase immunization rates, 47 states allow for religious exemption for vaccinating, and 17 more all for philosophical exemptions (source). The goal of NIAM is to offer the information on how to communicate the necessity of vaccinating at all stages of life, not just during childhood. In the spirit sharing as much information as possible so as to support the immunization process, following are five facts about immunizations:
- Vaccination helps protect from diseases needing the treatment of antibiotics, which recently, have become less and less effective as antibiotic-resistant bacteria are more common. Vaccinating to eliminate illnesses that will be treated with antibiotics later on help keep antibiotics from being rendered obsolete.
- Only three countries in the world are still fighting polio. Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nigeria are the only three places to have seen outbreaks in the virus as recently as 2013.
- Meningitis A has nearly been eradicated from Africa. Introduced in December 2010, the meningitis A vaccine has lead to the almost complete eradication of this strand of the disease which causes inflammation of the brain and spinal cord membranes.
- 86% of children worldwide received the DTP3 vaccine in 2016. Approximately 116.5 million children under the age of one were vaccinated for diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis in 2016. These diseases can cause illness, disability, or lead to fatalities.
- Progress is being made! The first vaccine to protect against malaria will be released in three African countries next year. As new viruses begin to emerge, scientists are working nonstop to create not only the treatments for the diseases, but also for the prevention.
To celebrate this year’s NIAM, talk to your family and to your health care provider to ensure you are up-to-date on your vaccinations!