COLUMBIA, Mo. — Pediatricians at University of Missouri Health Care want to remind parents, caregivers and health care providers that August is National Immunization Awareness Month, and as children head back to school, students enroll in college and the flu season fast approaches, it is important to ensure all immunizations are up-to-date.
Vaccines offer safe and effective protection from infectious diseases. These immunizations protect both the persons receiving the vaccination and in communities, by preventing the spread of vaccine-preventable diseases.
From young infants to elderly adults, all ages are susceptible to disease and should follow the recommended immunization schedule provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Because children are particularly vulnerable, many vaccinations are recommended in a child’s first five years of life.
“Immunizations are proven effective in preventing childhood diseases,” said Thomas Selva, M.D., professor and associate chair for clinical affairs in the Department of Child Health at the MU School of Medicine. “Parents should follow the CDC-prescribed vaccination schedule to ensure their child has a healthy future.”
According to the CDC, immunization is one of the most significant public health achievements of the 20th century. Vaccines have eradicated smallpox, eliminated wild poliovirus in the United States and significantly reduced the number of cases of measles, diphtheria, rubella, pertussis and other diseases. But despite these efforts, people in the United States still die from these and other vaccine-preventable diseases.
“Immunization of childhood diseases is the No. 1 health success story in the last century,” said Selva. “Millions of lives have been saved by vaccinations, and countless people have been protected against deadly diseases.” To continue the success story, timely vaccinations must remain a priority for people of all ages.
MU Health Care pediatricians encourage Missourians to contact their health care provider to make sure their immunizations are up-to-date. The CDC child, adolescent, and adult immunization schedules are available online at http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/recs/schedules/default.htm.
University of Missouri Health Care, with approximately 5,700 physicians, nurses and health care professionals, serves patients from every county in Missouri. As one of the state’s premier academic medical centers, MU Health Care offers highly specialized, multidisciplinary care for patients with the most severe illnesses and injuries. The comprehensive health care network began when University Hospital opened in Columbia in 1956. Today, MU Health Care consists of Children’s Hospital, Columbia Regional Hospital, Ellis Fischel Cancer Center and University Hospital and Clinics, all based in Columbia. The health system also includes a long-term acute-care facility, Missouri Rehabilitation Center, in Mount Vernon, Mo. Academic partners of the health system include the University of Missouri School of Medicine, Sinclair School of Nursing and School of Health Professions. Other affiliates include Rusk Rehabilitation Center in Columbia, Capital Region Medical Center in Jefferson City, Mo., and Cooper County Memorial Hospital in Boonville, Mo.