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National Immunization Awareness Month Vaccinations Prevent Illness


Submitted by Cindy Anderson MT(ASCP) SM, Infectious Disease Laboratory Coordinator and
Terry Masek, SPHR, Metropolitan Medical Laboratory, PLC, Human Resources Officer

We all need vaccinations or immunizations to help protect ourselves from serious diseases. To keep our community safe, Metropolitan Medical Laboratory is proudly participating in National Immunization Awareness Month. This awareness month highlights the need for improving national immunization coverage levels and encourages all people to protect their health by receiving recommended immunizations against infectious diseases. This is also the time we promote back-to-school immunizations, remind college students to catch up on their immunizations before they move back into dormitories, and remind everyone that another flu season is only a few months away.

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, hundreds of thousands of people in the United States, mostly children, became ill each year and tens of thousands died from diseases that are largely forgotten today due to the effectiveness of vaccines. When was the last time you heard of someone having diphtheria or polio? Everyone who lives in the United States would benefit from timely immunizations to protect their health. Vaccines reduce the risk of infection by working with the body’s natural defenses to help us safely develop immunity to these serious and deadly diseases.

Disease Reduction in the U.S.

This year the United States is experiencing a record number of measles cases. From Jan. 1 to May 30, 2014, there have been 334 confirmed measles cases reported to the Center for Disease Control’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. This is the highest number of cases since measles elimination was documented in the U.S. in 2000. The majority of people who contracted measles were unvaccinated.

In the decade before the measles vaccination program began, an estimated 3-4 million people in the United States were infected each year, of whom 400-500 died, 48,000 were hospitalized, and another 1,000 developed chronic disability from measles encephalitis. Widespread use of the measles vaccine has led to a greater than 99 percent reduction in measles cases in the United States compared with the pre-vaccine era. In 2012, only 55 cases of measles were reported in the U.S.

Measles is still common in other countries. The virus is highly contagious and can spread rapidly in areas where vaccination is not widespread. It is estimated that in 2008 there were 164,000 measles deaths worldwide.

Mumps is also no longer very common in the United States. Each year, on average, a few hundred people in the U.S. are reported to have the disease. Before the U.S. mumps vaccination program started in 1967, about 186,000 cases were reported each year. Since the pre-vaccine era, there has been a more than 99 percent decrease in mumps cases in this country. From Jan. 1 to May 2, 2014, 464 people in the U.S. have reported to have mumps, largely due to outbreaks at Ohio State University and Fordham University in New York.

Vaccinations Needed Throughout Your Lif
You never outgrow the need for vaccines. The specific immunizations you need as an adult are determined by factors such as your age, lifestyle, high-risk conditions, type and locations of travel, and previous immunizations. Throughout your adult life, you need immunizations to provide and maintain protection from preventable diseases.

Unfortunately, these serious and sometimes deadly diseases are re-emerging largely due to misinformation about the safety of vaccines. All vaccines in the United States are continually monitored for safety. Because these diseases have become so rare, we forget how serious and life threatening they can be. Just like medications, vaccines can cause side effects, mostly mild symptoms, in some individuals. Vaccinations do have some risks but they also have enormously substantial benefits. Most of us have been vaccinated for a wide variety of infectious diseases throughout our lives. Anyone who receives a vaccine should be fully informed of the risks and benefits and should talk with their health care provider if they have questions or concerns about vaccines.

If you have questions about the need for timely vaccinations; possible side effects of certain vaccinations; the location of free vaccines; and the recommended vaccination schedule for adults, teens, pre-teens, toddlers and infants, you should consult your physician or call the Center for Disease Control Contact Center at 1-800-CDC-INFO or (1-800-232-4636), English/Espanol. Additional information about the vaccines and their safety can be found on the Centers for Disease Control website at www.cdc.gov.

As Metropolitan Medical Laboratory celebrates our 100th year in 2014, your good health continues to be our passion. Metropolitan Medical Laboratory, PLC is one of the largest accredited laboratories in the states of Illinois and Iowa, and has provided this community with quality laboratory services for 100 years. Visit www.metromedlab.com.
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