In a coordinated effort by the National Public Health Information Coalition, August is National Immunization Awareness Month to promote awareness about the importance of immunizations throughout your life for your own health as well as the health of your loved ones and the general public.
From August 10 to August 16, the focus is on “Back to School” vaccinations needed for school-aged children.
The end of summer means getting ready to head back to school. It’s the time for gathering school supplies, buying new backpacks, and making sure your children are up to date on all their vaccines. Immunizations create protection at school and at home. Children ages 4 to 6 are due for boosters of four vaccines: DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis), chickenpox, MMR (measles, mumps, rubella), and polio. At the age of 11 or 12, Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis), MenACWY-CRM (meningococcal conjugate vaccine) and HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccines are recommended.
The HPV vaccine aids in cancer prevention and protects against cervical and anal cancers caused by certain forms of human papillomavirus. The vaccine is given to preteens and teens now to prevent HPV-related cancers later. Both boys and girls are given the vaccine.
Vaccines aren’t just for your child’s protection — they also help boost the health of the whole community. Schools are a prime location for transmission of vaccine-preventable diseases because of the large number of individuals in a small amount of space, and diseases can spread beyond the schoolyard to families and others with whom they come in contact.
Additionally, when a child comes down with a disease such as chickenpox or even the flu (a seasonal flu vaccine is also recommended for children 6 months and older), they may miss a lot of school during recovery, and trips to the doctor and/or missed work for caregivers can also start adding up. This is just one more reason why it is important to stay up to date with your child’s vaccinations and thus prevent as much lost time as possible.
Talk with your doctor to make sure your children get the vaccinations they need — when they need them. Most schools require children to be up to date on vaccinations before enrolling or starting school, so be sure to check with your school to find out what specific requirements exist. Remember — vaccinations are among the safest and most cost-effective ways to prevent disease. Vaccines are thoroughly tested before licensing and are carefully monitored thereafter to ensure safety.
If you would like to learn more about vaccines in general, the CDC shares information about how a vaccine is developed, approved, and manufactured here.