August is National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM). We all need shots (also called vaccinations or immunizations) to help protect us from serious disease. Understanding the difference between vaccines, vaccinations, and immunizations can be tricky. Below is an easy guide that explains how these terms are used:
* A vaccine is a product that produces immunity from a disease and can be administered through needle injections, by mouth, or by aerosol.
* A vaccination is the injection of a killed or weakened organism that produces immunity in the body against that organism.
* An immunization is the process by which a person or animal becomes protected from a disease. Vaccines cause immunization, and there are also some diseases that cause immunization after an individual recovers from the disease.
Vaccines.gov is a helpful resource to learn more including:
Vaccines are safe – Vaccines are the best defense we have against serious, preventable, and sometimes deadly contagious diseases. Vaccines are some of the safest medical products available, but like any other medical product, there may be risks. Accurate information about the value of vaccines as well as their possible side-effects helps people to make informed decisions about vaccination.
Vaccines are effective- Vaccines help prevent many serious diseases. Learn more about how vaccines work and the extensive testing process they undergo to ensure they are effective and safe.
Vaccines work with your immune system to prevent disease- Thanks to vaccines, many diseases have been nearly eliminated. Read this section to learn more vaccines and your immune system.
Vaccines protect individuals and the community- Vaccines save lives by preventing outbreaks of disease and protecting those who cannot be vaccinated.
Additional resources and information are available through the following websites:
* The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has created a National Immunization Awareness Month toolkit to share within your community about the significance of immunization at all stages of life.
* To find out what shots adults and teenagers need, visit the CDC’s What Vaccines do You Need?
* For adults, the Vaccine Finder tool will help you to find where you can get vaccinated by entering in your zip code
* The Department of Health and Human Services teamed up with WebMD to create family- friendly videos and resources that help parents understand which vaccines their preteen and adolescent children need to have and why. Topics include, “Your Vaccine Guide,” and “Are these Shots Safe?” They also offer learning about specific vaccines such as flu, meningitis, tetanus and others.
* Watch this video of the Surgeon General and Elmo talking about #GetVaccinated
Good News! The Affordable Care Act makes vaccines more accessible!
Immunizations are a preventative health service and thanks to the Affordable Care Act immunizations are more affordable than ever before!
In fact, if you or your family enrolled in a new group or individual health insurance plan on or after September 23rd 2010, you can get all vaccines recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) covered with no co-payments or other cost-sharing requirements when those services are delivered by an in-network provider. Check out the Affordable Care Act and Immunization fact sheet for more information!
Of course remember to talk to your doctor about which vaccines you or your family need to receive and how to follow the CDC suggested vaccination schedule. Most health insurance plans cover the cost of vaccines, but you may want to check with your insurance provider before going to the doctor or other health care provider.
The CDC’s Parents’ Guide to Immunization is an excellent resource for any parents who have questions about immunizations. This guide helps parents and caregivers learn about the role vaccines play in helping keep children healthy and addresses any misinformation about vaccines and questions about the safety of vaccines. The color booklet includes a glossary and list of resources and is illustrated with children’s artwork.