August 14, 2023
– By Gabrielle Lamplugh –
Every August, the Alabama Department of Public Health takes part in National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM). The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention coordinates the event. For almost 20 years, NIAM has promoted the positive health impact of vaccines.
August is an important time to consider vaccine schedules and choices. Many adults remember receiving back-to-school vaccines themselves. But, over the past few decades, a lot has changed when it comes to childhood vaccines.
For example, chickenpox was once one of the most common childhood diseases. According to the CDC, there used to be over 4 million cases of chickenpox per year. As a result, more than 10,000 children and adults were hospitalized each year. Chickenpox is often remembered as uncomfortable and itchy. However, the virus can have serious complications. These complications include pneumonia, sepsis, encephalitis, and even death. Since the release of the chickenpox vaccine in 1995 the number of cases has dropped dramatically. Today there are fewer than 150,000 chickenpox cases per year in the US.
The chickenpox vaccine is one of the many vaccines developed in recent decades. New vaccines, such as the measles and polio vaccines, have had a revolutionary impact on our health. Measles and polio used to affect tens of millions of people globally each year. Now, thanks to vaccinations, both diseases are considered eliminated in the United States.
In December of 2020, a new, revolutionary vaccine became available – the COVID-19 vaccine. Research and technology breakthroughs allowed scientists to develop the vaccine in record time. A highly effective vaccine became available less than a year after COVID-19 was first identified. The vaccine has prevented 120 million infections, 18.5 million hospitalizations, and 3.2 million deaths.
What if I have questions about vaccines?
Finding reliable information and answers to vaccine questions can be challenging. If you have questions about vaccines, where should you start to find answers? First, talk to your doctor or health care professional. Then, check out this resource from the CDC. The guide answers questions about vaccine safety, side effects, and other concerns.
As new vaccines are made vaccine schedules change. August is a great time to talk to your doctor about any updates to vaccine schedules. The Alabama Department of Public Health’s Back to Vaccines, Back to the Doctor! campaign also offers vaccine information.
Not sure which shots you or your child might need this year? If you’re 19 or older, take this quiz from the CDC to learn more. There’s also a quiz for those 18 and younger, found here. After taking the quiz, consider talking to your healthcare provider about your results.
Visit alabamapublichealth.gov/immunization/ to learn more about ADPH’s vaccine resources. Information is also available from the Alabama Department of Public Health Immunization hotline. Call 1(800) 469-4599 to learn more.
NIAM is an opportunity for physicians to promote vaccine equity. In particular, equitable access to the COVID-19 vaccines. The month also provides a special time for providers to connect with patients about vaccines.
Join us this August as we celebrate National Immunization Awareness Month! Visit the NIAM website to learn more.