National Immunization Awareness Month

Image Source: Canva

National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM) is a campaign held each August to raise awareness on the importance of vaccination for people of all ages.1 It is especially important for patients with chronic health conditions to be up to date on recommended vaccinations, since they are at increased risk for complications from certain vaccine-preventable diseases.8

Importance and Safety of Immunizations

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) defines immunization as a process by which a person becomes protected against a disease through vaccination.2 Immunizations save lives as they offer protection against numerous diseases. Without vaccines, people with weakened immune systems are more at risk.4

If you are concerned about the safety of vaccinations, know that they are thoroughly tested before being released to the public.4 Both the CDC and FDA continue to track the safety of all licensed vaccines.5 The CDC tracks the safety of vaccinations through The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). VAERS was created in 1990 to detect any potential safety issues with U.S. vaccines. If anyone experiences problems after an immunization, they can submit a report to VAERS. This monitoring system makes it possible to spot any unusual side effects from vaccinations as well as identify any risks for health issues related to vaccinations. If you are ever concerned about the safety of immunizations, you can have peace of mind knowing they are constantly being monitored.6

Adult and Childhood Vaccine Preventable Diseases

Below are some serious adult and childhood diseases that can be prevented by vaccinations.2

  • Chickenpox
  • Diphtheria
  • Flu (Influenza)
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Measles
  • Mumps

To discover more vaccine preventable diseases, check out: Diseases and the Vaccines That Prevent Them | CDC.

Effectiveness of Vaccinations

Facts and figures that show the effectiveness of vaccinations:

  • According to the World Health Organization, immunizations prevent 2-3 million deaths every year from vaccine-preventable diseases.7
  • It is estimated that vaccinations prevented 26 million cases of childhood disease in the U.S. in the past decade.7
  • The flu vaccination can reduce the risk of flu illness by between 40% and 60%.5

What Vaccinations Do I Need?

The CDC produced a vaccination schedule for all to follow (the recommended schedule can be found here). Check with your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions about your vaccination history or what vaccine requirements you have.

How Pharmacists can Help

Pharmacists are also in a unique position to identify those patients who are in target groups for certain vaccinations.3 They may also be able to ease the fears of many patients by providing them with facts such as clinical data and by dispelling common misconceptions and myths about vaccinations; they can also stress the significant risks associated with not being vaccinated.

Tria Health was founded on the belief that pharmacists play a vital role in the management of high-risk patients. With Tria, you have the option of receiving a one-on-one private consultation with one of Tria Health’s pharmacists over the phone. During your consultation, your pharmacist will review all your current medications, including vitamins, supplements and lifestyle habits. Your pharmacist will be able to answer any questions you may have regarding vaccinations.

Questions?

Call the Tria Health Help Desk at 1.888.799.8742

Sources:

  1. National Immunization Awareness Month (aap.org)
  2. Immunization Basics | CDC
  3. Adult Vaccination Rates Are Rising but Fall Short (pharmacytimes.com)
  4. Five important reasons to vaccinate your child – APIC
  5. Vaccine Effectiveness: How Well Do the Flu Vaccines Work? | CDC
  6. VAERS | Vaccine Safety | CDC
  7. VOM-Vaccines-Global-JUN2019.PDF (pfizer.com)
  8. NIAM Key Messages: Communicating with Parents and Patients | CDC

Everything you should know about vaccines

As National Immunization Awareness Month, August is a great time to learn about vaccines and make sure all of your immunizations are up to date. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that children be vaccinated for 14 diseases during the first year or two of their lives (see the full recommended vaccine schedule here). Other vaccines are recommended for adolescents, adults and those considering international travel.

A Brief History of Vaccines
Before vaccines were developed, outbreaks of infectious diseases that are now vaccine-preventable – like smallpox, diphtheria and measles – were fatal, especially for children. These diseases created widespread fear and panic, and killed a significant number of those infected. But those who survived developed immunity, and were unable to contract the disease again.

In the late 18th century, the English doctor Edward Jenner used cowpox to develop a vaccine which created immunity against smallpox, similar to the way surviving the disease created immunity. Over the next 200 years, effective and safe vaccines for several other infectious diseases were developed, significantly decreasing the occurrences of these diseases (see a full timeline of vaccine development here).

How do vaccines work?
Vaccines are created using an inactivated or weakened version of the virus that causes the disease. This allows the immune system to prepare the defense it would need to protect the body from the infection-causing virus. Vaccines create immunity to the diseases they prevent, similar to the immunity developed from exposure to a disease. Even though many vaccines are developed using some version of the bacteria that causes the disease, you can’t contract the infection itself from the vaccine, making it safer than developing natural immunity (
if you’re interested in a more in-depth assessment of how vaccines work, look here).

Benefits & Risks
Vaccines have effectively reduced the number of cases of vaccine-preventable diseases 
by more than 90%, and for many diseases by more than 98%. Before the measles vaccine was discovered, there were more than 500,000 cases a year. In 2009, there were 71.

Vaccines don’t just protect individuals, either. If a large enough percentage of a group is immunized, the risk for any member of the group contracting the disease is reduced substantially. It’s called community immunity. If members of that group stop being vaccinated, instances of the disease increase significantly.

There are risks associated with vaccines, but the majority of them are minor (think a little bit of redness or soreness around the injection site or other minor discomforts). The risk of contracting a disease preventable by vaccine is usually much more significant than the risks of side effects. Prior to any vaccination, discuss the benefits and risks with your doctor or pharmacist.

The perceived risks of vaccines, more often than not, are the result of common misconceptions about where vaccines came from and how they work. 

What Vaccinations Do I Need?
The CDC produced a vaccination schedule for all to follow (
the recommended schedule can be found here). Check with your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions about your vaccination history or what vaccine requirements you have.