Monday, August 6, 2012

National Immunization Awareness Month

We all need immunizations (also called vaccines or shots) to help protect us from serious diseases. Shots can prevent infectious diseases like measles, diphtheria, and rubella. But people in the U.S. still die from these and other vaccine-preventable diseases. It’s important to know which shots you need and when to get them.

Everyone age 6 months and older needs a seasonal flu shot every year. Other shots work best when they are given at certain ages. Here are some general guidelines:
  • Children need a series of shots from birth to age 6.
  • Pre-teens need recommended shots at age 11 or 12.
  • All adults need a booster shot every 10 years to help protect against tetanus and diphtheria.
We are seeing many cases of pertussis (whooping cough) in Maine right now. Pertussis is a highly communicable, vaccine-preventable disease that can last for many weeks. Immunity to pertussis following infection is not lifelong. Persons with a history of pertussis should continue to receive pertussis-containing vaccines according to the recommended schedule. Because vaccination is not 100% effective and immunity wanes over time, even fully vaccinated persons can become infected with pertussis. However, unvaccinated children have an 8 times higher risk of becoming infected with pertussis than fully vaccinated children. Furthermore, vaccinated children who do get infected with pertussis have milder symptoms, shorter duration of illness, fewer severe outcomes (including hospitalization) and are less infectious than their non-vaccinated counterparts. Therefore, vaccination remains the most effective way to prevent pertussis.
Talk to your doctor or nurse to find out which immunizations you need. For more information, visit 

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