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Prep for a healthy year during National Immunization Awareness Month

Prep for a healthy year during National Immunization Awareness Month

August is National Immunization Awareness Month, and it makes perfect sense that it coincides with the back-to-school season! It’s a good reminder to make sure your kids are up to date on any necessary immunizations.

The awareness month is designed to highlight the importance of vaccination for people of all ages—kids and adults alike. If you ever see a poster promoting National Immunization Awareness Month, you may notice the teal “ribbon” that’s a cute little folded bandage.

Whether your kids are back to school already, or will be starting in the next few days or weeks, it’s a good idea to make sure they have the immunizations they need. Keep reading and our LCMC Health team will tell you why!

A shot of good health

If you ever played a game of Oregon Trail on the computer, you may have “died” from a condition you’ve never even heard of. That’s because many of the serious illnesses that caused death in the United States in the past have been wiped out or are preventable thanks to routine vaccinations.

Take the dreaded diphtheria, for example. This illness that wreaked such havoc on the fictional version of the Oregon Trail (and the real life one, too) can now be prevented through routine vaccination for kids and booster shots for adults.

Vaccination protects against many different illnesses, providing the immune system a way to defend against viruses. Staying on track with routine vaccines is important for two reasons: It protects your health, and it protects public health.

It probably makes sense to you that a vaccine helps keep you healthy, but what does it have to do with keeping others healthy?

When you receive a vaccine, in many cases you’re protected from developing an illness, which also keeps you from spreading that illness. This benefits everyone around you, but it’s especially important for those who cannot be vaccinated (like newborns) and those who are at a high risk (like older adults or those with compromised immune systems).

Making immunizations part of your back-to-school routine

If you take your kids for regular checkups with a pediatrician or another primary care provider, vaccines are likely a part of those visits. During a pediatric developmental checkup, your provider will review each child’s vaccination record before recommending vaccines based on age.

Immunizations are not chosen at the discretion of your provider. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) publishes a comprehensive list of age-specific recommended vaccines each year (for younger kids and older kids). Local health organizations also play a role in determining vaccine guidelines, including the list of vaccinations required to attend Louisiana schools.

Wondering whether your kids are up to date with vaccinations? The CDC also offers an assessment tool to find out which vaccines are needed. Since adults need vaccines, too, there’s an assessment tool for adults.

Why is it so important to stay on track with vaccine recommendations? To provide optimal protection, vaccines should be given before a child is exposed to certain illnesses, such as chickenpox.

Years of dedicated research help medical experts determine when each vaccine should be given and whether booster shots or other doses are necessary. In addition to routine vaccinations given once or in multiple doses, there are also some vaccines, including the flu shot, that should be received on an annual basis.

While shots are not something people typically look forward to, they’re often our best defense against illness. Give your kids a shot at good health by keeping them up to date.

Is it time for a back-to-school checkup for your child? Schedule an appointment with a LCMC Health pediatrician today!