By Jennifer Yen, clinical pharmacist at CHOC Children’s
August is National Immunization Awareness Month, an annual observance highlighting the importance of vaccinations in people of all ages. August is a great time to make sure everyone is up-to-date on their vaccines, as the summer starts to wind down and children prepare to head back to school. It is also a great time to start planning ahead to receive the flu vaccine.
The immunization schedule outlined by Centers for Disease Control & Prevention and supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics has been shown to be the most effective and safest way to protect your child from potentially fatal diseases. Other proposed alternative schedules have not been researched to show their safety or effectiveness. However, if any of the vaccines are delayed, your child is still able to receive them and “catch-up” before adolescence. Infants who have been vaccinated according to the schedule are protected from 14 diseases by the time they turn 2.
By getting your vaccination, you are not only protecting yourself, you are protecting those who are unable to receive vaccines, such as infants who are too young to start vaccinations and those with weakened immune systems who cannot receive vaccinations. Many vaccine-preventable diseases are still common in other parts of the world.
Don’t Forget Your Flu Shot
Flu season usually peaks between December and February, but can start as early as October and last as late as May. The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older, and encourages the public to receive one as soon as the flu vaccine becomes available to ensure that as many people as possible are protected before flu season begins. Check with your primary care provider if you should receive a total of one or two doses per season, dependent upon vaccination history.
Talk to your doctor or other health care professional to make sure you and your loved ones are up-to-date on vaccinations. Families who need help paying for childhood vaccines should ask their healthcare professional about the Vaccines for Children Program, which provides vaccines at no cost to eligible children who do not otherwise have access to recommended childhood vaccines.