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August is National Immunization Awareness Month

Author: Jacquelyn Langdon/Tuesday, August 01, 2017/Categories: Health

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August is National Immunization Awareness Month, which is an annual observance held to highlight the importance of vaccination for people of all ages. Immunization is an important aspect of preventive medicine. Despite the availability of vaccines, infectious diseases still occur in the United States annually.

Vaccines have reduced and in some cases eliminated many diseases that once killed or harmed infants, children and adults. The viruses and bacteria that cause vaccine-preventable diseases and death still exist and can infect people that are not properly immunized. By staying up-to-date on recommended vaccines, individuals can protect themselves, their families and friends from serious, life-threatening infections.

In August, parents will be enrolling children in school, older students will be going to college and the health care community are preparing for the upcoming flu season. This is an opportune time to update needed immunizations and to get those that may be required for school or your job.

Vaccines are also recommended when traveling outside the U.S. to specific regions of the world which may have higher health risks or specific vaccine requirements for your travel destination. Many diseases that have become rare in the United States, such as measles and polio, are still common in other parts of the world. With the peak summer travel season under way, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reminding travelers to Europe and other global destinations to take steps to protect themselves against measles. More than 14,000 measles cases have been reported in Europe alone since January 2016. If
your primary health care professional does not administer travel vaccines, you need to visit a travel clinic. The Niagara County Department of Health travel clinic may be reached at (716) 278-1903. Make an appointment at least 4 to 6 weeks before international travel to allow for time to complete a vaccine series
and for your body to build up immunity.

Other important ways to avoid illness while traveling is to be careful what you eat and drink. In addition, bugs, including mosquitoes, ticks and some flies, can spread a number of diseases. Use insect repellent, cover exposed skin, and try to avoid insects where you are staying. Wash your hands often with soap and
water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer and don't touch animals, especially monkeys, dogs and birds.

"Making sure that your family is up to date on their vaccinations is one very important way to protect you and those you love from preventable diseases," said Daniel Stapleton, Public Health Director.

To schedule an appointment for routine vaccines or vaccines for travel, call the Niagara County Department of Health Immunization Program at (716) 278-1903.

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