“National Immunization Awareness Month provides the opportunity to remind everyone of the importance of immunizations and also making sure that your family is up-to-date on their immunizations, especially before the start of the new school year,” said, Ocean County Freeholder Director Gerry P. Little, Liaison to the Ocean County Board of Health.
Daniel Regenye, Ocean County Health Department (OCHD) Public Health Coordinator, added, “August is a time that parents are enrolling children in school, older students are entering college and the health care community is preparing for flu season. Vaccines are responsible for the control of many infectious diseases that were once common in the United States. Vaccines have not only reduced but in some cases eliminated many diseases that at one time routinely posed serious health threats to infants, children, and adults.”
Regenye continued, “Maintaining high immunization rates protects the entire community by interrupting the transmission of disease-causing bacteria and viruses. This reduces the risk that unimmunized people will be exposed to these bacteria and viruses. Protecting the entire community, including those unvaccinated due to medical or other reasons, is known as herd immunity or the concept of protecting the majority with safe effective vaccines to reduce the transmission of disease. Some vaccine success stories include:
o Up through the early 1920’s, diphtheria killed over 10,000 people every year. Vaccinations in children against diphtheria began in the 1930’s and the disease began to disappear. It is extremely rare to see a case of diphtheria today.
o In 1962, the year before measles vaccine was introduced; almost 500,000 cases of measles were reported each year in the U.S. Ten years after vaccination against measles began, there were about 32,000 cases and ten years later, there were fewer than 2,000. In 1998 and 1999, only about 100 measles cases were reported each year.
o Smallpox was one of the most devastating diseases in the world and millions died from it every year. In 1967, the World Health Organization began an intensive, worldwide vaccination campaign and twelve years later, smallpox was considered eradicated.
Leslie Terjesen, OCHD Public Information Officer, said, “Unfortunately, we are beginning to see an increase in vaccine preventable diseases. It is important to remember the reason for vaccines it to give you immunity, or protect you, from a disease before it has a chance to make you sick. Remember, none of want to see children get sick, so let’s take the time to vaccinate them and protect them from disease.”