According to the World Health Organization, immunizations are estimated to prevent as many as three million deaths every year due to preventable diseases. It is unfortunately also estimated that around 19 million children younger than one year old around the world do not get the vaccines they should have, and there are many adults who aren't protected either. August is National Immunization Awareness Month, so there is no better time to promote good health and encourage all your loved ones to make sure they are up to date on their immunizations.
The History of Immunizations at a Glance
In 1776 in Berkeley, England, a country doctor named Edward Jenner took pus from a lesion created by cowpox on the hand of one of his milkmaids and used that pus to actually help a young boy by inoculating him. When the boy was exposed to smallpox six weeks later, the boy was unaffected. After several more experiments, Jenner published a book on how cow-pox protected humans from smallpox infection. This single formulation kicked off centuries worth of experimentation, formulations, and study into how humans could protect themselves from common illnesses and diseases through vaccinations.
Common Immunization Schedules Everyone Should Know
Even though the CDC offers a comprehensive guide on immunizations and schedules, there are a few basic vaccines that most people know about. Some of the things most children are now vaccinated for include:
- Hepatitis A and B
- Pertussis (Whooping Cough)
To reduce the number of vaccines children must have, many vaccines are combined into one booster shot. For example, measles, mumps, and rubella are often combined into the MMR vaccine.
There are also vaccinations available for adults over the age of 19 years of age, such as influenza and Tdap. If you did not get certain vaccines as a child, you may also need to get those as an adult to keep yourself rightfully protected. Adults may also need specific vaccinations if they are traveling to certain parts of the world. For instance, if you will be traveling to the Bahamas, you may need to get the Typhoid vaccine, which can be present in food or water in the area.
How to Help Support National Immunization Awareness Month
The best thing you can do to show your support for National Immunization Month is to take part in making a difference a person at a time, which is not all that hard to do. You can:
- Make sure you have been fully immunized (Remember, there are shots you may need even as an adult.)
- Talk to people you love who may not know how important it is to get vaccinated and protect themselves
- Help your elderly relatives get vaccines that can help them stay healthy, such as the pneumonia or flu vaccine
- Talk to your health care provider about future vaccination schedules you should follow
- Encourage community education regarding immunizations by handing out materials or hosting an event
In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers a super helpful list of tools you can use to help you communicate with parents, healthcare professionals, and others about immunization awareness. Do your part to get the word out about the importance of vaccines in support of National Immunization Awareness Month this August.