Cedartown, GA: When was the last time you checked to make sure your vaccinations were current? The Polk County Health Department wants to remind Georgians that August is National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM). When you think of your back to school check list, make sure to add vaccinations to the list. The health department reminds Georgians to stay up-to-date and get a head start on vaccinations required for school age children.
“Vaccinations are the number one way to fight vaccine-preventable diseases,” said Polk County Health Department Nurse Manager Malindy Ely. “Our goal is more than keeping our children healthy, it’s also to protect them and those around them from vaccine-preventable diseases.
“August serves as a reminder that people of all ages require timely vaccinations to protect their health,” Ely explained. “This includes everyone from babies and young children to preteens and teens to pregnant women and adults.”
Every adult in Georgia (19 years of age and older) should follow the recommended immunization schedule by age and medical condition. Vaccinations protect you and they protect others around you; especially infants and those individuals who are unable to be immunized or who have weakened immune systems. It is always a good idea to have the adult vaccine schedule nearby as a reference and to make sure you are current on your immunizations. This link is to the recommended adult immunization schedule:
The CDC last year announced that live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV), also known as the “nasal spray” flu vaccine, should not be used during the flu season. However, the CDC continues to recommend annual flu vaccination, with either the inactivated influenza vaccine (IIV) or recombinant influenza vaccine (RIV) for everyone 6 months and older.
Students born on or after January 1, 2002 and entering the seventh-grade need proof of an adolescent pertussis (whooping cough) booster and adolescent meningococcal vaccinations. Every child in a Georgia school system (Kindergarten -12th grade) attending a child care facility, or a new student of any age entering a Georgia school for the first time, is required by law to have a Georgia Immunization Certificate, Form 3231. Below are the immunizations required for child care and school attendance:
- PCV13 (up to age 5 years)
- Hepatitis A and B
- Hib disease (up to age 5 years)
- Meningococcal Conjugate
First-year college students living in residence halls are recommended to be vaccinated with meningococcal conjugate vaccine. If they received this vaccine before their 16th birthday, they should get a booster dose before going to college for maximum protection. In addition, there have been several recent mumps outbreaks on college campuses. It’s important for college students to remain up-to-date on all vaccines.
“This time of year is ideal for the community to focus on the value of vaccinations and remind them to stay up-to-date”, said Ely. “The focus of vaccinations often rests on young children, but it is just as important for college students and adults to stay current on their vaccinations.”
Vaccines protect families, teens and children by preventing disease. They help avoid expensive therapies and hospitalization needed to treat infectious diseases like influenza and pneumococcal disease. Immunizations also reduce absences both at school and at work and decrease the spread of illness in the home, workplace and community.
This August, be smart and get immunized. The Polk County Health Department reminds adults to check with their health care provider for their current immunization recommendations as well as parents to check for their children. Safe and effective vaccines are available to protect adults and children alike against potentially life-threatening diseases such as tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, meningococcal disease, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, shingles, measles, mumps, rubella and varicella (chickenpox). So, talk to your health care provider or visit the health department and get immunized today. For more information on immunization, visit http://dph.georgia.gov/immunization-section or https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/index.html