CONTACTBarb Tyler, Office of Communications, (402) 471-3486,firstname.lastname@example.org
Lincoln – August is recognized annually as National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM), which highlights the importance of obtaining recommended vaccines throughout a person's lifetime. During this week, the public is encouraged to talk to healthcare professionals to make sure that family and friends are up-to-date on their vaccinations. It is a personal responsibility to protect oneself and family members against serious diseases through on-time vaccinations.
As children head back to school this fall, vaccinations should be at the top of the “to-do" checklist. Nebraska ranked above the target percentage in 2018 in recording polio and MMR vaccinations for those children going into kindergarten. In the same year, Nebraska girls were among the highest nation-wide (66.6%) in receiving the HPV vaccination. For all Nebraskans ages 18 and up, 55.3% received the influenza vaccine compared to the national average of 48.4% in the year 2019-2020. In 2019, over 90% of Nebraskans between the ages of 13-65 received at least one vaccine.
August is a key time to make sure that adults are also up-to-date on all the vaccines needed in order to stay healthy. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has an adult vaccine assessment tool to help determine what those are.
Good record-keeping begins with good record-taking. Begin tracking a child's vaccination records at birth or when the first vaccine is given. Keep track of a child's records by getting a vaccination tracking card from a doctor or the state health department. Ask the healthcare professional to enter the vaccines that are received in the Nebraska State Immunization Information System (NESIIS), which is used by public health clinics and doctors as a record of vaccination. The CDC also provides information on the vaccines recommended during pregnancy and throughout one's life on the Interactive Vaccine Guide.
To maintain a copy of a vaccination record, keep the record in a safe place where it can be easily located, and bring it to each doctor visit. Ask the doctor or nurse to jot down the vaccine given, date, and dosage, as well as the location where the vaccine was given in order to better keep track of these official records if needed at a later date. It's important to save and update these records over the course of a life since they will likely be needed for registration at school, for child care, attending a summer camp, or traveling internationally.
A child should be considered susceptible to disease and should be vaccinated (or revaccinated) if the records are lost or are incomplete. It is safe for a child to receive a vaccine even if they may have already received it. An antibody test could be done to determine immunity to certain diseases; however, these tests may not always be accurate and doctors may prefer to revaccinate for the best protection. Talk to a doctor to determine what vaccines are needed for protection against vaccine-preventable diseases.
When adopting a child who was born in the U.S., ask the adoption coordinator for the child's official vaccination records. If the records are not available, a search may be needed to obtain the records; for tips on locating a child's vaccination record, see the CDC's information at Finding and Updating Vaccine Records.
If it is not possible to locate a child's vaccination records, doctors recommend vaccinating according to the recommended immunization schedule. The child may be vulnerable to vaccine-preventable diseases if there is uncertainty about the vaccines that the child has received. It is safe for a child to be revaccinated; work with the child's doctor to catch up on any vaccines needed.
If a child is adopted internationally, ask the adoption coordinator for the vaccination records. The child's birth country may have vaccines or a vaccination schedule that is different from the recommended immunization schedule in the United States. An internationally adopted child should be considered susceptible to disease and be vaccinated (or revaccinated) against vaccine-preventable diseases if vaccination records are incomplete or can't be understood, can't be located, or if the doctor thinks that they are inaccurate. If there becomes a need to travel to the child's birth country, anyone travelling to that location should be up-to-date on their own vaccinations; it is also very important that any other children or caregivers in your home are current on their own vaccines.
In regards to foster children, each state's child welfare agency has different policies about vaccinations. Talk to the child's caseworker or placement agency about getting consent for routine medical care for the child. Once permission is given, ask for any available medical records. A healthcare provider can use these records to determine if the foster child is behind on any vaccines. The foster family should keep records of all vaccines the foster child receives.
On-time vaccination throughout childhood is essential to provide immunity before children are exposed to potentially life-threatening diseases. Vaccines are tested to ensure that they are safe and effective for children to receive at the recommended ages.
Vaccines are safe, and scientists continually work to make sure they become even safer. Vaccines have eradicated smallpox and the polio virus in the United States and significantly reduced the number of other vaccine-preventable diseases. They are one of the most effective ways to protect children and adults against many common infectious diseases.
There are 10 routine childhood vaccines that protect children from 14 vaccine-preventable diseases:
The CDC recommends that everyone six months of age and older get a flu vaccine each year. Hospitalization rates for flu are highest among children, especially those less than one year of age. Before the varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, almost every child in the United States (about 4 million annually) contracted chickenpox.
Vaccines are available for these preventable diseases:
Every year, thousands of adults in the United States become seriously ill and are hospitalized because of diseases that vaccines could help prevent. Adults with chronic conditions like diabetes or heart disease are at greater risk for severe complications from certain vaccine-preventable diseases. Many adults even die from these diseases. Adult vaccination rates are low in the United States; most adults are not aware that they need vaccines. Visit with a healthcare provider and discuss the need for vaccinations for both young and old.