Anita Odom: Protecting public health is everyone's responsibility
Published: Wednesday, August 6, 2014 at 3:55 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, August 6, 2014 at 3:55 p.m.
Benjamin Franklin's quote "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," was actually fire-fighting advice in the 1800s. Today, we understand the wisdom of prevention applies not only to fire fighting, but to nearly every aspect of our lives- especially our health. August is National Immunization Awareness Month and Prevent Child Abuse Florida is joining the Department of Children and Families in promoting vaccination by encouraging everyone to get their shots.
As families across Florida prepare to send their children back to school, they should consider that all children attending public schools must follow their state's admission policies on vaccinations. This is a great time to promote vaccines and remind family, friends and coworkers to stay up to date on their shots. We can all use this month to raise awareness about vaccines and share strategies to increase immunization rates in our communities: Here are a few ideas:
· Talk to friends and family members about how vaccines aren't just for kids. People of all ages can get shots to protect them from serious diseases.
· Encourage people in your community to get the flu shot every year.
· Invite a doctor or nurse to speak to parents and caregivers about why it's important for all kids to get vaccinated.
There are no federal vaccination laws but the Food and Drug Administration regulates vaccines to ensure their safety and effectiveness and immunization requirements for public school enrollment are determined by individual states.
In addition to childhood vaccinations, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends an annual flu vaccination for everyone over 6 months of age. In the past it was generally accepted that flu vaccines were only for the very young and the very old; however, in 2009 H1N1 disproportionately affected young people, which is why flu vaccines are now recommended for everyone. In 2013, the flu was most intense in the South and West, making it even more important for Florida residents to get vaccinated.
"Making sure children are up to date on immunizations as the school year begins is an important step in protecting our children from preventable illnesses and supporting a healthy learning environment," Interim Secretary Mike Carroll said.
The message from public health officials, Prevent Child Abuse Florida and the Florida Department of Children and Families is that protecting public health is not just our best interest; it is also everyone's responsibility.
· Find out the state of Florida immunization schedule and requirements. http://www.floridahealth.gov/programs-and-services/prevention/immunization/children-and-adolescents/schedules-and-requirements/index.html
· If you have a child age 6 or younger, find out which shots your child needs. (http://www2a.cdc.gov/nip/kidstuff/newscheduler_le/)
· Find out which shots adults and teenagers need. (http://www2.cdc.gov/nip/adultImmSched/)
· Use this chart for adults to see if you are up to date on your shots. (http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/downloads/adult/adult-schedule-easy-read.pdf)
· If you are pregnant, check out this recommended immunization schedule. (http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/downloads/f_preg_chart.pdf)
Anita Odom is executive director of Prevent Child Abuse Florida.