The North Dakota Department of Health is observing National Immunization Awareness Month and would like to remind all North Dakotans to make sure their family is up-do-date with their immunizations.
“Most people think immunizations are just for babies, but they are important for adolescents and adults too,” said Molly Howell, Immunization Program Manager. Some childhood vaccines wear off over time, so adolescents and adults need shots to stay protected from serious diseases like tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis. As people get older, they are at greater risk of getting certain diseases like meningitis, blood infection, and infections that can lead to HPV cancers. “Vaccination is important because it not only protects the person receiving the vaccine, but also helps prevent the spread of diseases to others – especially those who are most vulnerable to serious complications, such as infants and young children, the elderly, and those with chronic conditions and weakened immune systems,” according to Howell.
Infants need important vaccinations at birth, 2, 4, 6 and 12 to 15 and 24 months of age. Infant immunizations protect against tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, polio, hepatitis B, Haemophilus influenzae type B, pneumococcal, rotavirus, measles, mumps, rubella, chickenpox and hepatitis A. Children ages 4 to 6 are due for boosters of MMR, TDaP, polio, and chickenpox before entering school in the fall.
Adolescents are recommended to be vaccinated against tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, meningitis, and HPV at 11 to 12 years of age. In North Dakota, four in 10 adolescent girls and six in 10 adolescent boys have not yet received a dose of HPV vaccine, making them vulnerable for cancers later on in life. “HPV vaccination is critically important as one person every 20 minutes in the United States is diagnosed with an HPV-related cancer,” said Howell.
Vaccines are recommended for adults to prevent serious diseases such as influenza, shingles, pneumonia caused by pneumococcal bacteria, hepatitis, and whooping cough. Unfortunately, far too few adults are receiving the recommended vaccines, leaving themselves and their loved ones vulnerable to serious diseases. “Although adults believe immunization is important, many are unaware that they need vaccines,” said Howell. “There is a new recommendation for all adults 65 and older to receive two different pneumococcal vaccines one year apart. If you are pregnant, have a medical condition, are elderly or in close contact with infants or others at high risk, it is even more important for you to contact your health care provider about vaccines.”
In addition, a yearly flu vaccine is recommended for everyone 6 months and older.
“We want to encourage everyone to ask about immunizations each time you visit your health care provider,” said Howell. “If you haven’t seen your health care provider in a while, it’s probably time for a check-up and you are probably due for vaccinations.” Vaccines are available at private doctors’ offices, as well as other convenient locations such as pharmacies, workplaces, community health clinics and local public health departments. Insurance plans usually cover the cost of vaccines. There are free vaccine programs available to assist people who don’t have health insurance.
For more information about immunizations, go FargoCassPublicHealth.com, or call 701-241-1383 to schedule an appointment.
The Fargo Cass Public Health Clinic will be closed September 3-7 for moving and in observance of Labor Day. The clinic will re-open on September 8 at its new location at 1240 25th St. S., Fargo.