STATE–August is National Immunization Awareness Month, a good time for New Jerseyans of all ages to protect themselves and their communities by catching up on their vaccinations, New Jersey Deputy Health and Senior Services Commissioner Dr. Susan Walsh said.
“We never outgrow our need for immunizations. Across the lifespan – from babies to seniors – immunizations reduce disease and save lives,” Dr. Walsh said. “With the new school year and flu season approaching, it’s the perfect time to ask your health care provider which immunizations you and your family members need.”
“Everyone can benefit from an annual flu shot. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone six months of age and older get immunized to protect against flu and its potentially deadly complications,” she added.
Vaccines are safe, effective, and critically important for young children, who are especially vulnerable to vaccine-preventable diseases. Most childhood vaccines should be given by age two, with some follow-up doses at ages four to six.
Immunizations are important for older children, too. In addition to ensuring childhood vaccines are current, adolescents need tetatus-diphtheria-pertussis vaccine, vaccine to protect against meningococcal disease and the three-dose HPV (human papillomavirus) series.
College students living in dormitories need meningococcal vaccine, and young adults should get HPV vaccine if they haven’t already been immunized. Older adults may need tetatus-diphtheria-pertussis, shingles, or pneumococcal vaccine.
Adults may need other immunizations, too, depending on age, vaccination history, medical conditions, high-risk exposures, or type and location of travel. These include vaccines to protect against hepatitis A, hepatitis B, chickenpox, and measles, mumps and rubella.
“When you get fully immunized, you protect yourself, your family and your community,” Dr. Walsh said. “People who are vaccinated help form a circle of protection around babies and individuals with health conditions who can’t be fully immunized.”
Immunization is among the greatest achievements of public health, but the fight against vaccine-preventable diseases is not over. Families, health care providers and the public health must continue working to ensure that all children are age-appropriately immunized.
DHSS makes free vaccine available to providers around the state who participate in the federal Vaccines for Children (VFC) Program. The VFC program serves infants and children whose families are uninsured, underinsured, on Medicaid or FamilyCare.
DHSS also continues its work to expand health care provider participation in the New Jersey Infant Immunization System, a web-based immunization registry. The registry helps providers track children’s immunization status and reminds parents when shots are due. The registry is easy to use, saves providers time and allows them to share needed immunization information with others.
For more information on National Immunization Awareness Month and on the CDC recommended immunizations for all age groups, visit the CDC web site at: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/events/niam/default.htm
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