National Immunization Awareness Month, created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is held annually in August to highlight the importance of vaccinations for people of all ages. Many schools and sports programs require updated vaccinations for students to enter and return to school. It’s also a good time for adults to make sure they are up to date on their vaccinations.
“Immunizations are the most successful and cost-effective public health tools for preventing disease and death,” said Dr. George Avetian, Delaware County’s Senior Medical Advisor. “Vaccines have eradicated some diseases and greatly reduced the number of cases of other diseases such as measles, diphtheria, and pertussis. By staying current on recommended vaccines, residents can protect themselves, their families and our communities from serious, life-threatening illnesses.”
Dr. Avetian reminds parents that there are new immunization requirements in Pennsylvania that require that children in all grade levels receive an additional dose of varicella vaccine, a second dose of mumps vaccine and a complete three-dose series of Hepatitis B vaccine. New Pennsylvania state regulations require all students to be vaccinated on the first day of school or have a medical or religious/philosophical exemption. If a student has an exemption, he or she may be excluded from school during an outbreak of vaccine-preventable disease. The regulations also require that students in seventh grade have one dose of meningococcal (MCV) conjugate vaccine and one dose of tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (Tdap.) For students entering 12th grade, students need one dose of the Meningococcal conjugate vaccine or MCV.
“These vaccines are safe and effective,” said Avetian. “They undergo rigorous safety, efficacy, potency and purity monitoring.”
Dr. Avetian also reminds residents of all ages that booster immunizations are recommended throughout life for some vaccines.
There is also a vaccination for shingles. There are two types of pneumoccal vaccine: conjugate and polysaccharide. The CDC recommends pneumococcal conjugate vaccine for all children younger than 2 years old, all adults 65 years or older, and people ages 2 through 64 years old with certain medical conditions. The CDC recommends pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine for all adults 65 years or older, people 2 through 64 years old with certain medical conditions, and adults 19 through 64 years old who smoke cigarettes.
There are several programs to assist residents with the cost of vaccines if they don’t have health insurance coverage. The Vaccines for Children (VFC) program assists children ages 18 and under who are Medicaid-eligible. Residents who need assistance with health services including immunizations can get free or low-cost health services. For a list of local health services, please visit: www.delcopa.gov/ich/resources/healthclinics.html
Information including school vaccination requirements, recommendations, safety, services, and other resources can be found here: www.delcopa.gov/ich/resources/immunizations.html
Residents can also contact the County’s Department of Intercommunity Health: 610-891-5311.