August Health Beat

“Karen’s Kolumn” is researched and written by Public Health Nurse Karen Dolley. We appreciate her support and willingness to share!

August is National Immunization Awareness Month. The goal is to increase knowledge about the importance of immunizations for infants, children, pre-teens and teens, adults, and the elderly. Schools and colleges will be reopening soon and August is a good month to remind parents to make sure their children are up to date on their immunizations.

Most vaccines are given during the first 5 to 6 years of life because children are particularly vulnerable to infection. But other immunizations are recommended during adolescent and adult years. For certain vaccines, booster immunizations are recommended throughout life. For people traveling outside the United States, vaccines against certain diseases that may be encountered in specific regions of the world are recommended.

The viruses and bacteria that cause vaccine preventable diseases and death still exist and can infect people who are not protected by vaccines. By staying up to date on the recommended vaccines, individuals can protect themselves, their families and friends, and their communities from serious life threatening vaccine preventable diseases.

At www.cdc.gov/vaccines/events/niam/ you can see and download copies of the adult immunization schedule, the childhood and adolescent Immunization schedule, and A Parents Guide To Childhood Immunization.

Most people are familiar with childhood immunizations which include a series of shots to protect against measles, polio, chicken pox, hepatitis, diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping-cough (pertussis). Additional immunizations are recommended at 11 and 12 years of age including meningitis, and a booster of diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis. The HPV vaccine is recommended for girls to protect them from the most common causes of cervical cancer. Immunizations recommended for adults include a tetanus shot every 10 years and a seasonal flu shot every year. And for persons 65 years old, a one time pneumonia shot is recommended.

At www.maine.gov/dhhs/boh/, there is information about outbreaks of vaccine preventable diseases in Maine and where these outbreaks are located. You can find this information under “Health Alerts”. Talk to your families and friends and make sure they are protected. Make sure you are up to date on your own immunizations. Plan on receiving a seasonal flu shot this year. By protecting ourselves, our families and our friends, we are also protecting the communities where we live.

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