August is National Immunization Awareness Month. The goal of this national observance is to raise awareness of the importance of being properly immunized. Vaccinations are important for one simple reason; they prevent the onset and spread of devastating disease. Immunizations are just not for infants they prevent the spread of disease throughout a lifetime. Young and old alike can benefit from proper preventative medicine which includes vaccinations.
Vaccinations help to prevent dangerous and deadly diseases such as flu, rubella, hepatitis, measles, pneumonia and diphtheria to name a few. Some diseases have been eradicated such as smallpox due to vigilant vaccination programs. A complete listing and recommended vaccination schedule for the United States can be found at the Centers for Disease Control website.
It is important to understand the difference between immunity, immunization and vaccines.
- Immunity is the body’s ability to resist infection or disease because of exposure to an infection. The body develops antibodies to fight off infection from future exposure.
- Immunization is when a person is made immune or resistant to an infectious disease, typically by the administration of a vaccine.
- Vaccines are used as a preventive measure to provide immunity. Weakened or dead bacteria stimulate antibody production.
History of Vaccination
A little over 200 years ago, Edward Jenner discovered how to vaccinate against disease. He observed dairymaids and noticed how they seemed to be protected against smallpox as a result of their exposure to cowpox. He experimented by exposing a small child to a very small dose of smallpox. The child was able to build immunity to the disease and avoid full-blown infection in the future. This simple trial started the age of immunization.
In 1885 Louis Pasteur proved disease was preventable by exposing humans to small doses of weakened germs. He used a vaccine to successfully prevent a boy named Joseph Meister from contracting rabies after he was bitten by a rabid dog.
Possibly the most famous of all is Jonas Salk and Albert Sabin. They developed an inactivated polio vaccine and then a live polio vaccine that would save countless young lives from contracting polio.
Vaccinations should be given over a lifetime and not just during childhood. Think of all the other times vaccinations occur such as flu season, when kids go off to college and when we travel abroad. Diseases such as malaria and dengue fever, not common in the United States can plague travelers. For a full listing of recommended schedules please click here.
There are several kinds of necessary vaccinations throughout a person’s life:
- Infancy-Childhood-Adolescence-Vaccinations should begin at birth and continued on until young Common examples are measles, mumps and rubella, hepatitis, diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis.
- Young adult– Young adults should receive annual flu shots along with other vaccinations. Young adults going off to college must be properly vaccinated to prevent the spread of disease in close quarters such as dormitories.
- Adult-Elderly– Vaccinations are very important during this time of life. Aging causes the body to lose its ability to fight off disease. Influenza and pneumococcal vaccinations are vital to good health during this time of life.
Long Term Acute Care Hospitals were created to serve a once underserved segment of the patient population. This option allows patients who meet the criteria an extended period of time to recover to their highest functional level. LTACH’s provide comparable levels of care to traditional hospitals and at Specialty Hospital of Central Jersey care is delivered with a team approach achieving the patient’s goals over a longer course of time. Please contact us at Specialty Hospital of Central Jersey by calling 732.942.3592. We are conveniently located at 600 River Avenue in Lakewood, New Jersey.