August is National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM)

Parents can do a number of things to ensure a healthy future for their child. One of the most important actions parents can take is to make sure their children are up to date on their vaccines. Vaccines are among the safest and Immunization graphicmost cost-effective ways to prevent disease. Following the recommended immunization schedule provides the best protection from serious, and sometimes deadly, diseases.

Babies receive vaccinations that help protect them from 14 diseases by age two. Child care facilities, preschool programs and schools are prone to outbreaks of infectious diseases. Children in these settings can easily spread illnesses to one another due to poor hand washing, not covering their coughs, and other factors such as interacting in crowded environments.          

Parents can send their preteens and teens to middle school and high school – and also off to college – protected from these vaccine-preventable diseases by ensuring their children are up to date on their vaccines. Along with helping protect preteens and teens from contracting certain diseases, being vaccinated also helps stop the spread of these diseases to others in vaccinetheir family, classroom, and community. Protecting your children from preventable diseases will help keep them healthy and in school. A sick child may also mean that a parent has to miss work or other important events.

Vaccines are thoroughly tested before licensing and carefully monitored even after they are licensed to ensure that they are very safe.

Side effects from vaccines are usually mild and temporary. Some people may have allergic reactions to certain vaccines, but serious and long-term side effects are rare. If you are unsure of your state’s school immunization requirements, check with your child’s doctor, school, or local health department. Parents with questions are encouraged to talk with their child’s healthcare professional to see if any catch-up doses are needed. The vaccine schedule is based on the best scientific information available and provides doctors with information on administration of each vaccine. Estimates from a CDC nationally representative childhood vaccine communications poll (July 2014 online poll) suggest that almost 9 out of 10 people are vaccinating according to schedule or are intending to do so.

Vaccines don’t just protect your child. Immunization is a shared responsibility. Families, healthcare professionals and public health officials must work together to help protect the entire community – especially babies who are too young to be vaccinated themselves.

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