ATLANTA, Aug. 20, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- During the month of August, parents are busy enrolling children in school, older students are entering college and adults and the health care community are preparing for the upcoming flu season. Recognizing August as National Immunization Awareness Month is a great time for the community to focus on the value of vaccinations and remind them to stay up-to-date.
"Most of us remember to get vaccinated for diseases such as influenza, measles or chicken pox; but, we don't always remember to get our booster shots for Tdap, meningitis or check our immunization history for protection against shingles and hepatitis," said Steven Mitchell, director of the Immunization Office of the Georgia Department of Public Health. "Vaccines are important not only to keep ourselves healthy, but also to protect those around us."
August serves as a reminder that people of all ages require timely immunizations to protect their health. This month, make it a point to encourage friends, family, co-workers and members of the community to make sure they are up-to-date on all vaccinations. According to the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, approximately 50,000 Americans die each year from vaccine-preventable diseases or their complications. Vaccinations prevent disease by keeping people healthy and help avoid expensive therapies and hospitalization needed to treat infectious diseases like influenza and pneumococcal disease.
In 2011, there were more than 15,000 cases of whooping cough reported in the United States, and more than 12 deaths: most in children younger than 6 months of age. Georgia had 178 pertussis cases reported and only one infant death. Thus far in 2012, nearly 18,000 cases have been reported in the U.S. At this pace, the number of pertussis cases for 2012 will be the highest it has ever been since 1959, when 40,000 illnesses were reported. Similar to national trends, the Georgia Department of Public Health has noticed an increase in pertussis activity in the more highly populated metropolitan Atlanta area as well.
Immunizations help reduce absences both at school and at work and decrease the spread of illness in the home, workplace and community. This August, the Georgia Department of Public Health reminds adults to not only check with their health care provider for their child's current immunization recommendations – but check for themselves as well. Safe and effective vaccines are available to protect adults and children alike against potentially life-threatening diseases such as tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, meningococcal disease, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, shingles, measles, mumps, rubella and varicella (chickenpox). So talk to your health care provider or visit your public health department and get immunized today.
For more information on immunization, visit http://health.state.ga.us/programs/immunization.
SOURCE Georgia Department of Public Health