National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM)
National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM) is an annual observance held in August to highlight the importance of vaccination for people of all ages. NIAM was established to encourage people of all ages to make sure they are up to date on the vaccines recommended for them. Communities have continued to use the month each year to raise awareness about the important role vaccines play in preventing serious, sometimes deadly, diseases. – National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM)
Public health scientists and clinicians tout vaccines as one of the greatest achievements of modern medicine. But for many ordinary Americans vaccines have become a controversial topic. In recent years, there has been a rise in anti-vaccination groups and their voices has permeated throughout the general public, which in turn has led to a decrease in vaccinations for the newest generation of children. These groups build off of the simple fear over the amount of vaccinations children receive in modern days, as well as an unproven belief that vaccinations can lead to developmental problems such as Autism. However, reaction to these thoughts lead to a very real danger of the modern day reanimation of once deadly diseases of the past. In the light of National Immunization Month, we are going to dive deeper into this topic to show why vaccinations are important.
Results of not Vaccinating
Measles was once a common illness in children that could very easily become deadly if not treated immediately and properly. However, with the introduction of a measles vaccine, the disease was successfully eliminated from the Americas. However, with the decrease in vaccinations, measles has begun spreading and growing throughout Europe, particularly in Romania. According a recent article from the World Health Organization, Romania has “reported over 3400 cases and 17 deaths since January 2016”.
Now though this may be happening far away from us in the United States, with the modern day globalization and frequent migration of individuals across continents, the disease can easily come back to prominence in the Americas. If individuals continue to refuse to vaccinate their children and themselves, there is no herd immunity that could prevent a modern day uprising of measles in the United States.
Facts about Immunizations
In 1994, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) began collecting information about the vaccination of children ages 19—35 months. They did this through a survey called the National Immunization Survey (NIS), and they’re still doing it. The information they collect gives us a good picture of how well-covered our society is by the vaccines recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). The CDC looked back at children born between 1994 and 2013, and estimated that vaccinations will prevent:
- about 322 million illnesses
- 21 million hospitalizations
- and 732,000 deaths over the children’s lifetime
On top of this, the prevention of illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths nets a savings of $295 billion in direct costs and $1.4 trillion in total societal costs.
Reasons for Vaccinations
If these facts aren’t enough to persuade you to get to vaccinate, here are ten more reasons you should consider.
1. Vaccine-preventable diseases haven’t gone away – The viruses and bacteria that cause infectious diseases and deaths still exist and can be passed on to those who are not protected by vaccines. Adolescents who were vaccinated in early childhood, but whose immunity has waned, are common transmitters of the pertussis infection to infants.
2. Vaccines will help keep you healthy – The CDC recommends vaccinations from birth through to adulthood to provide a lifetime of protection against many diseases and infections including meningitis, whooping cough, influenza, HPV, measles, mumps, rubella, and hepatitis A and B. Yet many adolescents are not vaccinated as recommended, leaving them needlessly vulnerable.
3. Vaccination can mean the difference between life and death – Vaccine-preventable infections can be deadly. For example, meningococcal infection can spread quickly, killing an otherwise healthy adolescent in 48 hours.
4. Vaccines are safe and effective – Vaccines are among the safest medical products available and can prevent the suffering and costs associated with infectious diseases. The potential risks associated with the diseases that vaccines prevent are much greater than the potential risks from the vaccines themselves.
5. Vaccines won’t cause the disease they are designed to prevent – People cannot “catch” the disease from the vaccine. Some vaccines contain “killed” virus, and it is impossible to get the disease from them. Others have live, but weakened, viruses designed to ensure that you cannot catch the disease.
6. Young and healthy people can get very sick, too – Infants and the elderly are usually at greater risk for serious infections and complications, but vaccine-preventable diseases can strike anyone, including healthy teens. Adolescence is a great time to check that your childhood immunizations are up to date and to find out about vaccines specifically recommended for adolescents.
7. Vaccine-preventable diseases are expensive – Diseases not only have a direct impact on individuals and their families, but also carry a high price tag for society as a whole, exceeding $10 billion per year. An average influenza illness can last up to 15 days, typically with five or six missed school days.
8. When people get sick, those around them can get sick too – In general, vaccine-preventable diseases are more serious for the very young and the very old. By getting vaccinated, you are protecting yourself as well as your family and friends.
9. Everyone deserves the chance to stay healthy – Getting all adolescent vaccines is a great start for a healthy adulthood. Given that vaccines are such a safe and easy way to prevent disease, why not take full advantage of them?
Vaccinations are important both for our own individual health and for the health of those around us. Seeing as August is National Immunization month, and the month before many schools and universities start back, there is no better time to get both you and your family all the necessary vaccinations to keep everyone healthy!