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August Is National Immunization Awareness Month-Get On Board!

Immunization may seem like something that belongs primarily in the realms of international travelers and pediatricians, but this year, the global pandemic has created widespread demand for a new vaccine. Awareness of the value of immunization has been raised naturally, with the entire population being fed up with the need to stay home and avoid social events due to COVID-19.

There are still many other types of vaccination that need to take place, and since August is National Immunization Awareness Month, it’s a perfect time to look at how to get involved.

How to Be Part of Immunization Awareness

Broadcasting messages about the importance of immunization in general or for specific conditions helps to make people aware, and to bring the subject into productive conversations with healthcare providers.

Signs posted in medical facilities share the message before caregivers even begin to speak to patients, so can start the thought process. There is likely to be an opportunity to discuss relevant vaccinations with every new patient and during annual exams.

Spreading the word to those who are not even coming into the office is easy through social media. CDC makes it easy for healthcare providers to participate by offering free, ready to post graphics for use in social media. The social media graphics are provided in three different formats, making them easy to use on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. Some simply promote awareness and others share key messages of the campaign, such as “Vaccine-preventable diseases are still a threat. Vaccination is the best protection.”

Immunization Is a Year-Round Event

Back-to-school and flu season are the times of year when immunization gets the most attention, but it is important for healthcare providers to be aware of many different reasons people need it, and these occur year-round.

Childhood: Immunization is part of the standard checklists for baby and toddler routine checkups, so they are the most likely to be kept up to date. Since each shot is associated with a particular exam, it is easy to monitor whether the child is on schedule.

Adolescence: While most childhood vaccines are given earlier in childhood, there are several—particularly those for sexually transmitted diseases—that are given during adolescence. Teens are not exempt from the spread of HPV, hepatitis or meningococcal disease.

Pre-pregnancy: Rubella is very dangerous to the unborn child during pregnancy, so women who may become pregnant should be current on MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine. This is one of the most common vaccinations, but cannot be given during pregnancy.

Pregnancy: The CDC recommends vaccinating pregnant women against whooping cough and flu during pregnancy, and again during each subsequent pregnancy. The baby will have immunity for the first few months after birth. Depending on the circumstances (travel, potential exposure to Hep B, etc.) additional vaccinations may be recommended during pregnancy.

Travel: Traveling internationally often requires immunization, and many adults who have previously been immunized need boosters. Planning ahead is important, since some vaccines require a series of injections over a period of time. Posters reminding potential travelers to “plan ahead” can be helpful for raising awareness. Inquiring about any future travel plans can also be added to annual exam checklists, and immunizations can be given on the spot or scheduled.

Health Conditions: While it is important for the physician to consider the health and any related factors before immunizing patients with diseases such as diabetes or heart disease, immunization can be an important part of health maintenance for those who are affected. For example, diabetes impacts the immune system and can result in more serious complications from diseases than other people experience, and blood glucose monitoring has exposed diabetics to Hep B.

There are many benefits to immunization, and even though physicians must consider various factors that apply to each patient, awareness of the importance and availability of vaccination is key to keeping immunization rates high.

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