TOPEKA – In its work to help Kansans protect themselves from serious diseases, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment is proudly participating in National Immunization Awareness Month.
Immunizations can prevent infectious diseases like chickenpox, whooping cough, measles and meningitis. Though vaccine preventable diseases may seem uncommon, Kansas continues to investigate cases and outbreaks of these diseases on a regular basis in the state as do many other states across the United States.
“Immunizing is the main reason certain diseases do not run rampant,” said KDHE Immunization Program Director Ryan Burns. “However, the extraordinary success of vaccinations also creates vulnerability: the better vaccines work, the less people think about getting them. This is why National Immunization Awareness Month is so important for reminding people about one of the greatest medical advances in history.”
According to the CDC, more than 17,000 cases of pertussis (whooping cough) and nine pertussis-related deaths have been reported in the U.S. so far this year. The majority of these deaths occurred among infants younger than 3 months of age who were either unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated yet.
The incidence rate of pertussis among infants exceeds that of all other age groups. The second highest rates of pertussis disease are observed among children 7 through 10 years old. Rates are also increased in adolescents 13 and 14 years of age. In Kansas, 121 confirmed cases of pertussis have been reported this year.
Immunizations work, but in order for them to work correctly it’s important to know which immunizations or vaccinations you need and when to get them. Vaccinations work best when they are given at certain ages. Here are some general guidelines:
• Everyone over age 6 months needs to be vaccinated against seasonal flu every year.
• Children need a series of vaccinations from birth to age 6.
• Pre-teens need recommended vaccinations at age 11 or 12, as well as teenagers as they enter into high school and college, vaccinate before you graduate.
• All adults need a variety of vaccinations to prevent diseases such as whooping cough, pneumonia, flu, shingles and more.