August is National Immunization Month!


Do you know the difference between an epidemic and a pandemic??

An epidemic is an outbreak of disease that attacks many people at about the same time and spreads throughout one or several communities. 

A pandemic is when an epidemic spreads throughout the world.  The HIV/AIDS pandemic took over thirty million lives.  Throughout history, there have been cholera and various strains of flu pandemics.  

Certain diseases that exist in a particular region or population are considered endemic.  A perfect example of this is malaria.  Malaria is a constant worry in parts of Africa.

Did you know that August is National Immunization Month?

If you remember being vaccinated as a child, have you ever checked your medical records to determine if you require additional immunizations as a maturing adult or, as a senior, grandparent and world traveler?

The purpose of proper vaccination is to eradicate disease, and stop the spread of infectious diseases.  Vaccines are not just for children.  Adults need to be vaccinated to stay protected from deadly diseases such as flu, pneumonia and measles.  

Sadly, many people do not understand how some diseases are spread. Particularly spread to certain segments of our population that have higher risk factors than others.

Are you aware of the fact that although vaccinations are required by public schools, there are exemptions provided for such as medical, personal and religious exemptions?

There are a few medical reasons that prevent some children from being vaccinated, such as:

  • A true medical exemption.  Some children may simply be too young to be vaccinated.  An example would be a child that had a life-threatening reaction to a previous vaccination. That would exclude that child from being vaccinated for chickenpox, polio or, measles, mumps, and rubella vaccinations.
  • Children with severely compromised immune systems, as well as children that have undergone chemotherapy. 

There are religious exemptions noted in multiple states.  Litigation over the various types of exemptions and vaccination refusal has caused controversy for many years.  I expect that will continue.

As a parent, your actions center on the protection of your children and family.  A true personal conviction against vaccination is another such exemption available in many states. 

It is believed that with the numbers of non-vaccinated children increasing involving use of these various exemptions, that infectious disease will also rise.  I am simply providing you information you may or may not have been aware of.  There is an enormous amount of information available on the internet examining the pros and cons of immunizations for children and adults, as well as overwhelming medical documentation that clearly proves that vaccines have saved and continue to save untold amounts of lives. 

I imagine I will get quite a few emails from this post.  Since we began our research for this article, and talked with various resources about this subject, I realized that people have a very strong opinion regarding this controversial topic. Either vehemently for, or vehemently against.  No gray area to be found. 

Vaccines are proven to be effective. Timeliness is important in series’ of immunizations. In some instances, lack of insurance and quality healthcare can prevent timely immunizations, as well as scheduled follow-ups.

There is a wonderful program called the Vaccines for Children (VFC) Program. 

The Vaccines for Children (VFC) program offers vaccines at no cost to eligible children through healthcare providers enrolled in the program.  Click here to find out if your child is eligible. To learn more about the program click here. 

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) provide a series of three videos to inform you about the vaccines recommended for you and your family.  The CDC broke these vaccine schedules into categories of infants and young children, preteens and teens and adults. 

It is important to stay on top of your immunizations and keep them up to date particularly, if you are going to be traveling to other countries. You need to protect yourself, but you also need to protect your family, friends and community by not bringing any serious diseases home from your travels.

Certain health conditions can make it more difficult to fight off diseases that can be prevented such as pneumonia or the flu. Conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, or lung disease make it more likely to have complications.  

As a gay or bisexual man, there are vaccines specific to your situation. These vaccines help in protecting you against the flu, HPV, and hepatitis A and B.  Always discuss your complete history with your physician, as being HIV positive may require additional vaccinations. 

Military and pregnant women are also at an increased risk for certain diseases and may need additional vaccines.

All health care providers need to be up to date on vaccinations particularly, if you are going to have direct access to patients and be exposed to various bodily fluids. 

Talk to your family and friends about the importance of getting vaccinated.

Your physician should be aware of your medical history however; always remind your physician of any pre-existing conditions that you have that may require additional vaccines or, is contraindicated with your specific health condition. 

I think it is important to remember how many lives were lost in throughout history in previous epidemics and pandemics, and how critical it is to ensure that infectious disease continues to be prevented with timely and necessary vaccines.

Remember that vaccines are 100% safe, and the only proven way to prevent diseases.  

Whether or not you have mixed feelings about this subject as a parent, I can only suggest the following:

 Communicate with your partner about the subject.  Do your own research.  Talk to family and friends.  Talk to your physician.  And then make an informed decision.