Honor National Immunization Awareness Month by Taking Your Best Shot
Last month, news broke that an infant in San Bernardino County, California, died from whooping cough.
As a pediatrician, public health advocate, father, and grandfather of a young infant, it is one of my greatest sorrows to know that even one child died from a disease that is preventable.
Thanks to vaccines, we can protect young infants against whooping cough by making sure everyone is up to date with their vaccines. Pregnant women can pass on protection to their newborns by getting vaccinated during their third trimester every pregnancy. Family members and caregivers can strengthen that protection by getting up-to-date on the whooping cough vaccine, which helps prevent the spread of this life-threatening disease to infants and their mothers.
Whooping cough is just one of several vaccine-preventable diseases that threaten Americans. Outbreaks continue to occur, and many vaccine-preventable diseases remain common. Consider pneumococcal disease, which affects nearly 4 million Americans each year and can cause pneumonia or infections of the ears, blood and brain. Or that 1 in 3 Americans each year will develop shingles, which can lead to debilitating pain that lasts for weeks, months and, in rare cases, years.
Vaccines are safe, effective and the best protection against these diseases—from infancy to early adulthood and into old age. By getting vaccinated, we not only protect ourselves, we help stop the spread of disease to our children, families and communities. But, for vaccines to be most effective, vaccination rates must remain high.
We must be persistent in raising awareness about immunizations and encouraging timely vaccination. Every August is dedicated to National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM). NIAM is an annual observance designed to highlight the importance of immunizations. Each week of the month underscores the benefits of vaccination for people of all ages—including infants, children, teens, pregnant women and adults.
As NIAM kicks-off, we are announcing the release of a new video series focused on vaccinations across the lifespan. Each video is designed to inform parents, caregivers and adults of the importance of getting vaccinated. The series includes videos on pneumococcal disease, whooping cough and shingles.
No child should die from a preventable disease like whooping cough. We must—and can—do better to protect all Americans from vaccine-preventable diseases. Please join me in celebrating NIAM and spreading the word about the importance of immunizations by sharing these materials on the new video series and vaccine information for all stages of life.
Preparing Youth for Success in West Virginia
#IAmHHS: Helping U.S. Communities Recover after a Disaster