Originally published Aug. 1, 2011
August is National Immunization Awareness Month and is the perfect time to promote immunizations and remind family, friends and coworkers to get caught up on their shots. Immunizations aren’t just for babies and young children. We all need shots to help protect us from serious diseases and illness. Today there are vaccines for a variety of diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, tetanus, meningitis, diphtheria, influenza, pneumococcal disease, chickenpox, shingles and even cervical cancer. The Georgia Department of Public Health is encouraging Georgians to protect every adult and child – and get immunized.
Vaccination is one of the best ways to protect yourself and those around you from certain serious diseases. While some vaccine preventable diseases such as polio are declining, other diseases such as pertussis also known as whooping cough (pertussis) are increasing.
Pertussis is a highly contagious bacterial illness spread by coughs and sneezes from person to person. It spreads easily in households, schools, daycare centers and workplaces. Over the past five years, the number of people with pertussis in Georgia has increased. And in 2010, the number of reported pertussis cases in Georgia was 247 – nearly double the number reported in 2008.
Pertussis begins with symptoms that are often like those of the common cold. It usually starts with a runny nose and sneezing, but after a week or two, a severe dry cough develops which can last for several weeks. For adolescents and adults, the health impact can be limited, with symptoms clearing up without long-term effects. However, infants too young for vaccinations can have serious complications.
As with many vaccine-preventable diseases, most infants with pertussis get it from members of their own household. Therefore, it is important to remain current on your recommended immunizations. Have your immunization status evaluated by your medical provider or local public health department today.
If you are a healthcare practitioner interested in the latest information on adult and child immunization recommendations and ways to further promote immunization awareness, attend the 18th Annual Immunize Georgia Conference, presented by the Georgia Department of Public Health. The conference is scheduled for Thursday, September 15, 2011 at the Macon Marriott City Center in Macon, Georgia. For more info, email ImmunizeGeorgia@golinharris.com or call (404) 367-2766.