August marked National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM), emphasizing the importance of vaccination for all age groups. Healthcare professionals are encouraged to talk to their patients about the benefits of immunization and promote routine vaccination to protect against disease and sickness. Still, as we reach the end of the month, it’s important to remember any time is a good time to stress the value of prevention.
Information is key. Healthcare workers can direct parents to the Centers for Disease and Control Prevention Child and Adolescent Vaccine Assessment Tool if they need assistance determining their child’s vaccinations. Additionally, the Adult Vaccine Assessment Tool can assist patients over 18.
CDC Recommendations to Providers
- Engage in learning opportunities with the CDC’s Immunization Education Training courses.
- Be supportive and welcoming of vaccine questions and concerns.
- Encourage patients to stay up to date on vaccinations.
- Make and display immunization schedules.
- Use tools such as PneumoRecs VaxAdvisor Mobile App to make vaccine recommendations.
- Share the latest information on vaccine recommendations.
Dr. Edward Jenner is credited with creating the world’s first successful vaccine for smallpox in 1796, but the practice of exposure to prevent illness can be traced back as early as 200 BCE. Since Jenner’s discovery, vaccines have eradicated deadly diseases and dramatically improved global health. Recently, the COVID-19 pandemic spurred a collective effort to develop a vaccine in record time to reduce the impact of the virus. However, even before the pandemic, vaccination rates for U.S. children and adults have wavered as distrust, misinformation, and personal beliefs motivate some to rethink the benefits of immunization or abstain completely.
U.S. children are routinely immunized against preventable childhood diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella, polio, human papillomavirus (HPV), hepatitis A and B, and more. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, these immunizations prevent over 24 million disease cases. However, childhood vaccination rates have declined, leading to the return of some diseases thought to be eradicated.
Polio transmission was eliminated in the US in 1979, only to return in 2022 when the disease partially paralyzed a New York man. Measles was officially eliminated in 2000, but dozens of outbreaks have been reported since. According to the CDC, immunization disparities exist based on race, income, and geography. Uninsured, Black, Hispanic, and children living below the federal poverty level had lower immunization rates than children who were insured, White, or living at or above the poverty level.
CDC collected data from the 2021-2022 school year showed that the national measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccination rates for kindergarteners fell below the Healthy People 2030 target rate of 95 percent, the level needed to prevent community measles transmission. Vaccination rates ranged from 78% in Alaska to 98.6 % in Mississippi. The FDA recently approved the first monoclonal antibody shot to protect young children against respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) after a sharp rise in RSV, influenza, and COVID-19 last fall.
Check out the CDC website for more vaccine awareness and disease prevention information.
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