Immunization Awareness Month

Written by:

Dr. Michele Evink, MS, PharmD, BCGP 

August is National Immunization Awareness Month, an annual observance to highlight the importance of routine vaccination for people of all ages. 

The first vaccinations were created to avoid the deadly and disfiguring disease smallpox. By the 1700’s, from Greece to the American Colonies, smallpox and cow-pox were being used to create immunity to smallpox. Since those early days, vaccines have eradicated smallpox in the world and prevent many other diseases. 

There are sixteen diseases that have seen dramatic decreases in the United States because of widespread, childhood immunization. A study projected that giving routine, childhood vaccinations to the 4.2 million children born in 2009 will prevent 20 million cases of disease and over 40,000 disease related deaths. In addition to the health benefits, there are economic benefits of keeping people healthy. 

The diseases that have been reduced through childhood vaccinations include smallpox, diphtheria, measles, mumps, pertussis, polio, rubella and tetanus. The children that receive these vaccinations also contribute to reducing the spread of the diseases through community protection or herd immunity. This is an important benefit of vaccination.

It’s often said "vaccines save lives", but the truth is VACCINATIONS saves lives. A vaccine remaining in the vial has no possibility of preventing disease. It’s important that we work together to assure great coverage is achieved in those groups where vaccination is recommended. We are fortunate to live in an age where smallpox has been eradicated and children can live without the fear of polio. 

The past three years have been filled with challenges and much debate about vaccines. They remain some of the most effective and cost-effective prevention tools we have in healthcare. Use this National Immunization Awareness Month to touch base with your provider and make sure you and your family are up to date on recommended vaccinations.