August 25, 2014

National Immunization Awareness Month

Vaccines are not just for kidsThe month of August has been designated as National Immunization Awareness Month. As a partnering organization, the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) is helping to promote the importance of immunization in keeping our communities healthy.

Family traditions, a grandmother’s quilt, or the love of books should be passed on – but no one wants to pass on a serious illness. Take charge of your health and help protect those around you by asking about recommended vaccines at your next healthcare visit.

In the US, most parents vaccinate their children but few adults may realize that they, too, need vaccines – beyond flu vaccine – and even fewer are fully vaccinated. Are you one of the millions of adults unaware of the vaccines you need?

Each year, tens of thousands of adults needlessly suffer, are hospitalized, and even die as a result of vaccine-preventable diseases. A recent national survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed that most US adults are not even aware that they need vaccines throughout their lives to protect against diseases like pertussis, hepatitis, shingles, and pneumococcal disease.

Not only can vaccine-preventable diseases make you very sick, but if you do get sick, you may risk spreading certain diseases to others. That’s a risk most of us do not want to take. Infants, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems (like those undergoing cancer treatment) are especially vulnerable to infectious diseases. They are also more likely to have severe illness and complications if they do get sick. Vaccines can help you protect your health and the health of your loved ones.

And getting vaccinated is easier than you may think. Adult vaccines are available at doctors’ offices, pharmacies, workplaces, health clinics, and local health departments. Visit to help find a vaccine provider near you. Most health insurance plans cover the cost of recommended vaccines – a call to your insurance provider can give you the details you need.

Not sure what vaccines you may need? Take a short quiz at to help you find out which vaccines are recommended for you. All adults should get an annual flu vaccine to protect against seasonal flu and a Td/Tdap vaccine to protect against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (or whooping cough). You may also need other vaccines based on your age, health conditions, occupation, travel plans, and other factors. Some travel-related vaccines are part of a series or are required prior to travel to be most effective, so be sure to plan ahead.

Learn more about vaccines across the lifespan at the upcoming NFID Clinical Vaccinology Course scheduled for November 7-9, 2014 in Houston, TX. Among the expert faculty, Kenneth Schmader, MD of Duke University Medical Center will be discussing immunizations in older adults.

To join the conversation, follow us on Twitter (@nfidvaccines) using the hashtag #NIAM14, like us on Facebook, and join the NFID Linkedin Group.