August is National Immunization Awareness Month

Rear Adm. John Fuller, commander, Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, receives a flu immunization in 2015.  U.S. Navy file photo by Brandon Bosworth

Rear Adm. John Fuller, commander, Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, receives a flu immunization in 2015. U.S. Navy file photo by Brandon Bosworth

Yan Kennon

Naval Hospital Jacksonville Public Affairs

Immunizations represent one of the greatest public health accomplishments of the 20th century. Navy Medicine is a national leader in preventive health, and Naval Hospital Jacksonville joins with partners nationwide to recognize August as National Immunization Awareness Month.

Vaccines are safe and save lives. Patients should talk with their primary care manager about which vaccines are right based on age, health, job, lifestyle and other factors.

Parents are encouraged to make sure children are up to date on vaccines. Children are at an increased risk for disease and can spread disease to others in play groups, child care centers and classrooms, and to babies who are too young to be fully vaccinated and people with weakened immune systems due to cancer and other health conditions.

“Getting children vaccinated according to recommended immunization schedules is one of the most important things parents can do to protect their children from serious diseases,” Cmdr. Jesse Geibe, Naval Hospital Jacksonville director for public health, said. “Now is the time to check with your primary care manager or our immunizations clinic to find out what vaccines your child needs.”

Vaccines can protect babies from 14 serious diseases before turning age 2. After 6 months of age, children are recommended to receive the annual flu vaccine, and additional vaccines between ages 4 and 6. It’s very important that babies receive all doses and receive each one on time.

If a child falls behind the recommended immunizations schedule, vaccines can still be given to “catch-up” before adolescence.

Pre-teen and teen vaccines protect against serious and potentially life-threatening diseases, including meningitis, septicemia and cancers caused by human papillomavirus (HPV).

Young adults also need vaccines to stay protected, especially when college-bound, because protection from childhood vaccines can wear off with time. College students may be at increased risk for vaccine-preventable diseases like meningococcal disease.

There are misconceptions that vaccines are just for children, but people never outgrow the need for immunizations. They are recommended throughout life based on age, lifestyle, occupation, travel and medical conditions.

Each year, tens of thousands of adults in the U.S. needlessly suffer, are hospitalized, and even die from diseases that could be prevented by vaccines. Even healthy adults can become seriously ill and pass certain illnesses on to others.

Adults (including pregnant women) should receive the flu vaccine annually. Every adult should have one dose of Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis) vaccine, if not received as a teen, and a Td (tetanus and diphtheria) booster every 10 years.

Women should stay current on vaccines before becoming pregnant, including an annual flu shot (which is safe during pregnancy). Additionally, pregnant women should receive a vaccine against whooping cough (pertussis) during each pregnancy, preferably at 27 through 36 weeks. These vaccines protect mom and baby.

Women who are planning to become pregnant should talk to their provider, prior to becoming pregnant, to determine if vaccines are needed.

To find out more, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention web-site at http://www.cdc.gov.

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Category: News