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Immunization and Influenza Awareness Month

Immunization and Influenza Awareness Month

August is the month of the dog days of summer. It's typically a hot, sweltering month and no one wants to begin to even think about winter. Many people are running around and trying to fit the last of fun summer activities into an already busy summer calendar. 

August is also usually the time when parents work on their back to school shopping. With the busyness of last minute summer fun and back to school activities, immunizations are typically not the first thing on ones minds. However, August is the time to take heed.

The Department of Defense recognizes August as Immunization and Influenza Awareness Month to ensure that all military personnel and their families receive their annual influenza vaccinations and are up to date on their immunizations.

Fight the Flu

Lt. Col. Michele Soltis, MD, who is a preventative medicine physician within the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Public Health, says that receiving all recommended immunizations, including the seasonal flu vaccine, helps to protect both oneself and others from a number of potentially devastating, preventable diseases.

"Immunizations help to ensure that neither the service member, nor others in the service member's unit, become sick, permanently disabled, or even die due to vaccine-preventable illnesses" said Dr. Soltis. "Immunizations greatly contribute to the protection of the health, safety, and well-being of service members and help to ensure that units can remain ready and focused on accomplishing the mission at hand." 

Immunization programs are one of the top public health achievements of this century. Routine immunizations lead to drastic reductions in the prevalence of many common diseases. Immunizations have even led to the global eradication of smallpox and elimination of polio in the United States. 

However, due to ease of international travel and anti-vaccination movements, some vaccine preventable diseases such as measles, still cause outbreaks. Receiving available immunizations helps to protect yourself from the disease and helps eliminate that disease from the population, and protect others as well. 

Continued immunization ensures that diseases, such as polio and diphtheria, remain very rare in the U.S. If immunization rates against such deadly illnesses decline, the protection offered by vaccines will steadily decrease. Thus, many more people may become infected with once rare diseases, and may spread those diseases to others. Many people may become sick, permanently disabled, or even die due to illnesses that were once preventable by vaccines. 

As for the flu shot, it is important to receive those each year. The flu is a serious illness that can require hospitalization and can sometimes lead to death. Millions of people contract the flu each year, while hundreds of thousands of those infected are hospitalized or die from related complications from the flu. Annual flu immunization reduces the risk of the infection, hospitalization, and death. The vaccine may even help to decrease the severity of the illness for those that become infected despite receiving the flu vaccine, and stop the spread of influenza to others. 

Please consult with your doctor or other qualified healthcare professional before stopping or starting any medication, supplement, or beginning a health care regimen. 

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