August National Immunization Month

August is National Immunization Awareness Month

August is recognized as National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM). The goal of NIAM is to increase awareness about immunizations across the life span, from infants to the elderly.

August is the perfect time to remind family, friends, co-workers, and those in the community to catch up on their vaccinations. Parents are enrolling their children in school, students are entering college, and healthcare workers are preparing for the upcoming flu season.

In August, parents are enrolling children in school, older students are entering college and adults and the health care community are preparing for the upcoming flu season. This makes August a particularly good time to focus community attention on the value of immunization.

Vaccines are responsible for the control of many infectious diseases that were once common in this country. Vaccines have reduced and, in some cases, eliminated many diseases that once routinely killed or harmed tens of thousands of infants, children and adults.

The viruses and bacteria that cause vaccine-preventable diseases and death still exist and can infect people who are not protected by vaccines. Vaccine-preventable diseases have a costly impact, resulting in doctors’ visits, hospitalizations and premature deaths. Sick children can also cause parents to lose time from work.

Maintaining high immunization rates protects the entire community by interrupting the transmission of disease-causing bacteria or viruses. This reduces the risk that unimmunized people will be exposed to disease-causing agents. This type of protection is known as community or herd immunity and embodies the concept that protecting the majority with safe, effective vaccines also protects those who cannot be immunized for medical reasons.

Why are immunizations important?

Immunization is one of the most significant public health achievements of the 20th century. Vaccines have eradicated smallpox, eliminated wild poliovirus in the United States. and significantly reduced the number of cases of measles, diphtheria, rubella, pertussis and other diseases. But despite these efforts, people in the U.S. still die from these and other vaccine-preventable diseases.

Vaccines offer safe and effective protection from infectious diseases. By staying up-to-date on the recommended vaccines, individuals can protect themselves, their families and friends and their communities from serious, life-threatening infections.

Who should be immunized?

Getting immunized is a lifelong, life-protecting community effort regardless of age, sex, race, ethnic background or country of origin. Recommended vaccinations begin soon after birth and continue throughout life. Being aware of the vaccines that are recommended for infants, children, adolescents, adults of all ages and seniors, and making sure that we receive these immunizations, are critical to protecting ourselves and our communities from disease.

When are immunizations given?

Because children are particularly vulnerable to infection, most vaccines are given during the first five to six years of life. Other immunizations are recommended during adolescent or adult years and, for certain vaccines, booster immunization are recommended throughout life. Vaccines against certain diseases that may be encountered when traveling outside of the U.S. are recommended for travelers to specific regions of the world.

Tetanus/Diphtheria/Pertussis (Whooping Cough) Tdap – All adults should be immunized against tetanus and diphtheria every 10 years throughout their adult lives. Infection with Clostridium tetani, which is found in spores in the soil and in the gastrointestinal tract of some animals, causes tetany, or severe muscle spasms. The condition can be fatal without treatment. Diphtheria is an infectious respiratory illness which causes sore throat and difficulty swallowing. It sometimes causes severe swelling of the neck and can be fatal.

PneumococcalStreptococcus pneumoniae infection can cause a myriad of illnesses with varying degrees of severity, such as otitis media, pneumonia and meningitis. Adults 65 years of age and older require protection against pneumococcal infection, as do young adults who have diabetes or other chronic illnesses. Being immunized once for pneumococcal disease confers lifetime immunity, although those at high risk may opt to have a booster if they were vaccinated prior to age 65.

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) – Women aged 26 years and younger should be vaccinated against HPV, which causes genital warts, and is also responsible for causing approximately 70% of all cases of cervical cancer.

Influenza– It is likely that this year many people will require vaccination for the seasonal influenza virus. Flu vaccines (the flu shot and the nasal-spray flu vaccine (LAIV)) cause antibodies to develop in the body about two weeks after vaccination. These antibodies provide protection against infection with the viruses that are in the vaccine. Seasonal flu vaccines protect against the three influenza viruses (trivalent) that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season. The viruses in the vaccine can change each year based on international surveillance and scientists estimations about which types and strains of viruses will circulate in a given year

Average Nationwide School requirements for immunizations:

Children in ALL grades (K-12):
3 doses of tetanus *
3 doses of diphtheria*
3 doses of polio
2 doses of measles **
1 dose of mumps**
1 dose of rubella (German measles) **

Children ENTERING SCHOOL (at K or Grade 1):
4 doses of tetanus* (1 dose on or after the 4th birthday)
4 doses of diphtheria* (1 dose on or after the 4th birthday)
3 doses of polio
2 doses of measles**
1 dose of mumps**
1 dose of rubella (German measles)
3 doses of hepatitis B
1 dose of varicella (chickenpox) vaccine or history of the disease

Children ENTERING 7th Grade:
3 doses of tetanus*
3 doses of diphtheria*

3 doses of polio
2 doses of measles**
1 dose of mumps**
1 dose of rubella (German measles) **
3 doses of hepatitis B
Age appropriate dose(s) of varicella (chickenpox) vaccine or history of the disease

*Usually given as DPT or DTaP or DT or TD

**Usually given as MMR

NM Exemptions from School and Daycare Immunization Requirements

The New Mexico Immunization Exemption Statute (24-5-3) allows only two types of exemptions for children seeking exemption from required immunizations to enter school, childcare or pre-school. The two exemptions are medical or religious. If there is a medical reason for exempting from immunization, a signed medical exemption must be obtained from a duly-licensed physician attesting that the required immunization(s) would endanger the life of the child. If there is a religious reason for exempting from immunization, the childs parent/guardian must: a) ask an officer of the church to write a letter on your behalf stating that you are a member of the church, and the church uses prayer or spiritual means alone for healing; or if access to a church officer is not possible, then the childs parent/guardian must b) complete the Certificate of Religious Exemption Form. The form requires a statement of the religious reasons for requesting to have a child exempted from immunization.

The law does not grant immunization exemptions for philosophical or personal reasons.

Once a completed, notarized, original Certificate of Religious Exemption Form is filed with the Department of Health, the Department has up to sixty days to notify the parent/guardian if the request is approved or denied. If approved, the parent/guardian will receive two copies of the original form with a clear Approved box checked, a signature from an officer of the Department, and an expiration date. The parent/guardian must take the Approved form to the childs school. If denied, the parent/guardian will receive a letter from the Department of Health explaining that the request is denied, and that the parent/guardian has the right to file an appeal with the Department of Health Cabinet Secretary. A process for appeal will also be included.

Please use this form to request an exemption (Click on Link): NM Certificate of Religious Exemption Form

Forms may be mailed to:

Rhonda Sanchez
Attn: Exemption form
NM Immunization Program
PO Box 26110
Santa Fe, NM 87502-6110

You should be sure to complete and carry an immunization record with you, so that in case of emergency you are not needlessly vaccinated. Be sure to ask your family doctor at your yearly check-up if any vaccinations are required.

Immunization Facts and Myths

Unfortunately, misinformation about vaccines could make some people decide not to get their immunizations, putting them and others at a greater risk for illness. To better understand the benefits and risks of vaccines, here are a few common myths and the facts.

  • The immunization will give me the very disease the vaccine is supposed to prevent.This is by far is a person’s greatest fear about vaccines. However, it is impossible to get the disease from any vaccine made with dead (killed) bacteria or viruses or just part of the bacteria or virus. Only those immunizations made from weakened (attenuated) live viruses – like the chicken pox (varicella) or measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine – could possibly make someone develop a mild form of the disease, but it is almost always much less severe than the illness that occurs when a person is infected with the disease-causing virus itself. The risk of disease from vaccination is extremely small.One live virus vaccine that is no longer used in the United States is the oral polio vaccine (OPV). The success of the polio vaccination program has made it possible to replace the live virus vaccine with a killed virus form known as the inactivated polio vaccine (IPV). This change has completely eliminated the possibility of polio disease being caused by immunization in the United States.
  • Immunity only lasts for a little while.A few vaccines, like the one for measles or the series for hepatitis B, may make you immune for your entire life. Others, like tetanus, last for many years but require periodic shots (boosters) for continued protection against the disease. And some, like pertussis, wear off but do not require boosters because the disease is not considered dangerous among adolescents and adults. It is important to keep a record of your child’s shots so you will know when he is due for a booster.
  • The fact that vaccines are continuously studied and improved implies that they are unsafe.

The Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research is the government agency responsible for regulating vaccines in the United States. Working in conjunction with the CDC and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), they continuously research and monitor vaccine safety and effectiveness.

New vaccines are licensed only after thorough laboratory studies and clinical trials are conducted, and safety monitoring continues even after a vaccine has been approved. There have been and will continue to be improvements (such as those that have already been made to the DTaP and polio vaccine, for example) that will minimize potential side effects and ensure the best possible safety standards.

This November we will be once again be working with the NM Dept of Health or area fire departments to give influenza shots here at Plateau HQ and the outer areas. I will provide more details as I get them.

Vaccinations for Adults

Youre NEVER too old to get immunized!

Getting immunized is a lifelong, life-protecting job. Dont leave your healthcare providers office without making sure youve had all the vaccinations you need.

Recommended adult immunization schedule, by vaccine and age group – United States, 2012

FIGURE 2. Vaccines that might be indicated for adults, based on medical and other indications – United States, 2012

Information provided by CDC, NM Dept of Health, Vacines.gov and NIH.

Today’s post comes to us courtesy of Ken Oswald

Safety and Security Manager for Plateau