August 01, 2016
Area(s) of Interest: Public Health Vaccination
August marks National Immunization Awareness Month, a national effort to promote vaccinations to protect children and adults from serious, and sometimes deadly, preventable diseases. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), immunizations are one of the top 10 public health accomplishments of the 20th century. Among children born during 1994-2013, vaccination will prevent an estimated 322 million illnesses, 21 million hospitalizations and 732,000 deaths over the course of their lifetimes.
In response, CMA President Steve Larson, M.D., MPH, issued the following statement:
“By protecting your loved ones, we can protect our entire community against vaccine-preventable diseases. Vaccines have proven the safest way to greatly reduce and prevent infectious diseases like measles, pertussis, polio and bacterial meningitis that once routinely harmed or killed children and adults. August also marks back-to-school month for many families. Unvaccinated children risk diseases that can spread through play groups, child care centers and classrooms, which puts those unable to receive immunizations due to cancer or health conditions at even higher risk. We encourage Californians of all ages to ensure their immunization records are up-to-date.”
As of January 1, 2016, California schoolchildren are required to have the appropriate vaccinations prior to enrolling in a public or private elementary school or childcare center, unless the child has a physician-provided medical exemption. A study in JAMA Pediatrics determined it will take California six years for the benefits of its new school vaccination law to be fully realized.