DHR Observes National Immunization Awareness Month

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National Immunization Awareness Month

In honor of National Immunization Awareness Month, observed in August, the Department of Human Resources, Division of Public Health reminds residents about the importance of vaccinations and encourages individuals to stay current with immunization schedules.

Individuals who are up-to-date on recommended vaccines increase protection against serious and life-threatening infections for themselves, their families, friends and their communities. Yet, each year thousands of people across the nation fail to get immunized for vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles and rubella.

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"Following the immunization schedule recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is one way individuals can protect themselves and their communities against potentially life-threatening infections," Dr. Stuart Brown, Director of the Division of Public Health. "During National Immunization Awareness Month, we want to re-emphasize how critical vaccines are for children and adults."

With the 2007-2008 school year on the horizon, the Division of Public Health urges parents to set timely immunization appointments for their children because certain vaccines are needed for school registration. The state recently implemented additional vaccine requirements applicable to children and adolescents attending child care, Pre-K, Head Start and public and private school facilities. Additions to the immunization requirements, which became effective July 1, include: (1) a second dose of Varicella (chickenpox) vaccine and a second dose of Mumps vaccine or laboratory proof of immunity for children entering kindergarten, sixth grade or students entering a Georgia school for the first time in any grade; (2) Hepatitis A vaccine or laboratory proof of immunity for children enrolled in school or childcare facilities and were born on or after January 1, 2006; and (3) the vaccine to prevent pneumonia for children under five years of age and who are enrolled in child care centers, Pre-K or Head Start.

The Division of Public Health also encourages adults and the elderly to adhere to a recommended vaccine schedule to ensure protection against serious diseases caused by common infections such as flu. Vaccine recommendations for adults are based on a variety of factors including age, health status and medical history.

The goal of National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM) is to increase public awareness about immunizations across the life span, from infants to the elderly. Immunizations are one of the most significant public health achievements of the 20th century. Vaccines offer safe and effective protection from infectious diseases. They have also helped eradicate smallpox and significantly reduced the number of cases of measles, diphtheria, rubella and other diseases.

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