August is National Immunization Awareness Month. Immunization plays an important role in keeping you, your family, and your community healthy. Vaccination is important because it not only protects the person who gets the vaccine, but also helps to keep diseases from spreading to others, like family members, neighbors, classmates, and other members of your communities. This helps protect those who are most vulnerable to illness, such as infants and young children, elders, and those with chronic conditions or weakened immune systems.
There are certain vaccines that are especially important for American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) people to get, like the flu vaccine, because AI/AN people are at higher risk for complications from the flu. Vaccinations are important for people of all ages, so talk to your health care provider and learn more about recommended vaccines to keep you and your family healthy.
There are many routinely recommended vaccines for people of all ages. To learn more about what vaccines you need, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s webpage on immunization schedules to determine the age or age range of when each vaccine or series of shots is recommended.
The IHS National Immunization Program is a partnership with the Centers for Disease Control , working with IHS, tribal and urban immunization programs across the country to reduce the incidence of vaccine-preventable diseases among AI/AN populations. CDC and other medical experts update vaccine recommendations every year based on the latest research and science.
Vaccines give parents the safe, proven power to protect their children from serious diseases. Parents can provide the best protection by following the recommended immunization schedule – getting their child the vaccines they need, when they need them. Vaccines protect babies from 14 diseases by the time they reach 2 years of age. Remember - multiple doses are needed for best protection.
Getting vaccinated according to the recommended immunization schedule is one of the most important things a parent can do to protect their child’s health. Diseases can quickly spread among groups of children who aren’t vaccinated. Whether it’s a baby starting at a new child care facility, a toddler heading to preschool, a student going back to elementary, middle or high school – or even a college freshman – parents should check their child’s vaccination records. Childcare facilities, preschool programs, schools and colleges are prone to outbreaks of infectious diseases. Children in these settings can easily spread illnesses to one another.
Parents can do a number of things to ensure a healthy future for their children. One of the most important actions parents can take is to make sure their children are up to date on their vaccines. Preteens and teens need four vaccines to protect against serious diseases:
- Meningococcal conjugate vaccine to protect against meningitis and blood infections.
- HPV (human papilloma virus) vaccine to protect against cancers caused by HPV.
- Tdap vaccine to protect against tetanus, diphtheria, and whooping cough (pertussis).
- A yearly flu vaccine to protect against seasonal flu.
Teens and young adults may also be vaccinated with a serogroup B meningococcal vaccine. Talk with your health care provider for more information.
The need for vaccinations does not end in childhood. All adults should get recommended vaccines to protect their health. Even healthy adults can become ill and pass diseases on to others. Vaccines are recommended throughout our lives based on age, lifestyle, occupation, medical conditions, and vaccines received in the past. Everyone should have their vaccination needs assessed by a health care professional.
Vaccines are an important part of a healthy pregnancy. There are vaccines recommended for women who may become pregnant and for women who are pregnant. Pregnant women should get the whooping cough vaccine and flu vaccine during pregnancy. These vaccines protect the mother and her baby by preventing illnesses and complications. Getting vaccinated during pregnancy also allows the mother to pass some protection on to her baby. This protection provides some immunity against certain vaccine-preventable diseases during their first few months of your baby’s life, when your baby is still too young to be vaccinated.
Remember, everyone needs vaccines! Please ask your healthcare provider which vaccines you or your child may need.