Health Departments raise awareness of vaccines through August

With schools starting up again just last week and the intermingling of children and adults, health departments across the state have been promoting the benefits of vaccinations throughout the month of August.

Bill Christian, associate director of communication and media relations for the Tennessee Department of Health, said Immunization Awareness Month is both what is says on the tin and also helps educate parents and children alike on their benefits.

“Immunization Awareness Month serves as a reminder that immunizations are important for both children and adults to help reduce the risk of getting vaccine-preventable diseases,” Christian said. “Immunizations are an important way to protect personal, family and community health.”

Christian said the THD has promoted the awareness month through their online pages and through local programs in each county.

Vaccines are often a requirement in order to send children to schools, where exchange of germs and other unsanitary conditions can occur without people realizing.

Christian said not only do vaccines help people who receive them, but also people who are unable to.

“Vaccinations not only protect the person who receives them, but help provide protection to others who may not be able to be vaccinated,” he said.

Some vaccines are administered immediately after potential contact with an infection, such as rabies or Hepatitis A, the latter of which occurred in Johnson City just a month ago, where an outbreak of the disease from a McDonald’s prompted officials to begin giving out vaccines against the disease.

As for those who cannot receive vaccines, these are often due to either allergic reactions, being too young or possessing an immune system too weak to handle the vaccine. Doctors then rely on herd immunity: by vaccinating as many people as possible against the disease, the statistical chance of an unvaccinated person receiving the disease becomes much lower. This only works, however, if as many healthy people vaccinate as possible, as the herd immunity threshold is often tight.

This is often a challenge, however, when anti-vaccine groups start spreading misinformation about the dangers of the practice.

“Vaccines are safe and effective, and a vital way to protect individual, family and community health,” Christian said.

This campaign also applies to the flu vaccine, which can place many children, especially in areas like Carter County, in danger.

“It’s not too early to start planning to get your annual flu vaccine. We urge everyone aged six months and older to get a flu shot as soon as it’s available each year,” he said.

Those interested in getting more information can do so by contacting the Carter County Health Department at 423-543-2521 or at Carter County’s website and searching for the Health Department.

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