August is a busy month with back-to-school shopping, last minute family vacations, registering for school, and leaving for college. As summer comes to an end and the school year begins, people often forget to check if they and their family members are up to date on their vaccinations. August is National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM) and the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) reminds Georgians to get a head start on vaccinations required for school.
“August is a great time of year to engage the community regarding vaccinations”, said Sheila Lovett, Director for the Georgia Department of Public Health Immunization Program. “It’s the perfect time to make vaccinating a priority in our communities.”
This year, each week of NIAM focuses on a different stage of the lifespan:
- Adults (Aug. 1-7)
- Pregnant women (Aug. 8-14)
- Babies and young children (Aug. 15-21)
- Preteens and teens (Aug. 22-28)
Every adult in Georgia (19 years of age and older) should follow the recommended immunization schedule by age and medical condition. Vaccinations protect our families and communities; 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:http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/downloads/adult/adult-schedule-easy-read.pdf
The CDC has recently announced that live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV), also known as the “nasal spray” flu vaccine, should not be used during the 2016-2017 flu season. ACIP continues to recommend annual flu vaccination, with either the inactivated influenza vaccine (IIV) or recombinant influenza vaccine (RIV) for everyone 6 months and older. The ACIP vote follows data showing poor or relatively lower effectiveness of LAIV from 2013 through 2016. The official CDC press release can be found here: http://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2016/s0622-laiv-flu.html.
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.
Vaccines protect families, teens and children by preventing disease. Not only do vaccinations help avoid expensive therapies and hospitalization needed to treat infectious diseases like influenza and pneumococcal disease, but they 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 Georgia Department of Public Health 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). Talk to your health care provider or visit your public health department and get vaccinated today.
For more information on immunization, visit http://dph.georgia.gov/immunization-section.