The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) classify more than two dozen diseases as “vaccine preventable or potentially preventable.” Unfortunately, however, the incidence of these diseases has been rising recently, even in countries with a high standard of living and universal access to health care. WHO officials contend there is arguably no single preventive health intervention more cost-effective than immunization. Immunization averts an estimated two to three million deaths every year from diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), and measles. However, an additional 1.5 million deaths could be avoided, provided global vaccination coverage improves. I was glad to read that cases of rabies have decreased thanks to those vaccines.
In the United States, outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases often occur due to non-immunization or under-immunization among children and adults, as well as from exposure to infections brought into the country by unvaccinated travelers who returning from high-risk or endemic regions. Each August, the National Public Health Information Coalition (NPHIC) sponsors National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM) to highlight the importance of vaccination for people of all ages. Their goal is education, so everyone knows that:
- Vaccines protect against serious diseases.
- These diseases still exist and outbreaks do occur.
- Vaccines are recommended throughout life.
- Vaccines are safe.
- Dogs get lots of vaccinations. Here is a link to a schedule for pet vaccines.
Certain vaccines are recommended based on age, occupation, or health conditions (such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes or heart disease). Vaccination needs should be assessed by doctors, pharmacists, or other health care providers. Immunizations are important because they protect the person receiving the vaccine and help prevent the spread of the illness, which is especially important to the most vulnerable, such as infants, young children, the elderly, and people with chronic conditions and weakened immune systems. Puppies are more prone to certain diseases than full-grown canines. Parvo is one example.
Always consult your own healthcare provider before seeking vaccinations or taking any medications.
Immunization Recommendations for Everyone
The Immunization Action Coalition suggests that adults should get vaccines to protect their health, because even healthy adults can become seriously ill and pass diseases on to others. One immunization the CDC recommends for all adults, including pregnant women, is the influenza vaccine to protect against seasonal flu. Another vaccine-must for adults is the Tdap vaccine (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis or whooping cough) for anyone who did not get Tdap as a teen. Follow up should include Td (tetanus and diphtheria) booster vaccines every 10 years.
Immunizations for Special Groups
(The following recommendations for these groups, made by the CDC, NIAM and Vaccines.Gov, are as follows:)
- For a complete list of childhood vaccines, see the CDC’s schedule.
- Pregnant women should receive a Tdap vaccine each time they are pregnant, preferably at 27 through 36 weeks. For communication strategies on maternal vaccination, check out NIAM’s Toolkit: Pregnant Women.
- College students require immunizations noted on the gov website. Students at campuses where Allied Universal provides training can access additional information in the “Your Resources” section of their Fire Life Safety Training module.
- Adults 60 years and older should receive the shingles vaccine.
- Adults 65 and older should have one or more pneumococcal vaccines. (What’s more, some adults who are younger than 65 years, with certain high-risk conditions, are also recommended to receive one or more pneumococcal vaccinations.)
- Adults may need other vaccines (such as hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and HPV) depending on age, occupation, travel, medical conditions, vaccinations they have already received, or other considerations.
- For more information about adult vaccines, see the CDC Adult Immunization Schedules.
- Here is a link to the ASPCA schedule of recommended dog inoculations.
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