ImmunizeTN today announced that Gov. Bill Lee has declared August as Immunization Awareness Month in Tennessee.
As a result of COVID-19, many children are not seeing their healthcare providers for annual checkups or routine immunizations according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Immunization rates have fallen dramatically in Tennessee and across the United States. For example, when comparing April 2019 to April 2020, there was a 43 percent decrease in immunizations for Tennessee children, leaving tens of thousands of them vulnerable to preventable diseases.
"During this unprecedented time when everyone is focused on staying healthy, it is important to remember that immunizations are critical, not just for infants and children, but for everyone," Dr. Dorothy Sinard, a pediatrician and co-chair of ImmunizeTN, said. "Healthcare providers across Tennessee are making it a priority to provide a safe environment to patients and their families. Now more than ever it is crucial to stay up to date on recommended vaccines, which includes a flu shot with fall and winter just around the corner."
The CDC estimates that the vaccination of children born in the United States between 1994 and 2018 will prevent 419 million illnesses, 936,000 deaths and $1.9 trillion in total societal costs.
As communities prepare to reopen schools and to do so as safely as possible, maintaining and reinitiating routine vaccinations are both essential for protecting students, teachers, and communities from vaccine-preventable diseases and outbreaks. Immunizations are one of the greatest public health interventions in modern times, second only to clean water. Babies, children, adolescents, and adults, including pregnant women, are now protected from 27 diseases because of immunizations. Young children, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems are particularly vulnerable to serious diseases that can be prevented with immunizations.
"Please talk to your doctor, nurse or other healthcare professional to ensure everyone in your family is up to date on recommended vaccines," Sinard said. "You have the power to protect yourself, your family and your community against life threatening and preventable diseases."