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Goshen, N.Y. – Orange County Executive Steven M. Neuhaus and Health Commissioner Dr. Irina Gelman are reminding residents about the importance of vaccines and the protection they provide against serious diseases during National Immunization Awareness Month.
National Immunization Awareness Month is an annual observance held in August to highlight the importance of vaccination for people of all ages.
“Every year, tens of thousands of Americans get sick from diseases that could be prevented by vaccines. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), immunizations are the optimum protection against these diseases.” Neuhaus said. “It is one of the best ways parents can protect their children from potentially harmful diseases. Adults may also be at risk for disease due to age, job, lifestyle, travel, or health conditions such as asthma/COPD, heart disease and diabetes, and should consider getting immunizations if they haven’t already have done so.”
Gelman noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the delivery of vaccination services. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), fewer childhood vaccines have been administered during the COVID-19 pandemic. The New York State Department of Health reported in mid-May that doses of pediatric vaccines administered in the State (outside of NYC) dropped by approximately half in late March through mid-April 2020, compared to the same time period in 2019. Delaying vaccinations can leave children vulnerable to vaccine-preventable diseases and can result in outbreaks such as measles and pertussis.
“At this time, we anticipate that public and private schools may reopen in the fall,” Gelman said. “Compliance with school immunization requirements in accordance with New York State Public Health Law Section 2164 is expected in the upcoming 2020-21 school year. I am urging parents to schedule wellness visits with their primary care provider office as soon as possible.”
While vaccines have greatly reduced infectious diseases, it is important to note that the germs that cause vaccine-preventable diseases still exist and can be spread to people who are not protected by vaccines. According to the American College of Physicians, vaccines are safe. Before a vaccine is approved for use in the United States, it undergoes years of careful testing by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA also inspects the facilities where the vaccines are manufactured.
Once a vaccine is licensed, the FDA and the CDC continue to monitor its use. Vaccines are especially important for older adults and those with compromised immune systems.
“This year more than ever before, it is important to speak with your physician or health provider about being up-to-date with all recommended vaccinations, including the flu vaccine,” Gelman said. “We strongly encourage you and your family to get vaccinated before flu begins spreading in our communities, especially in lieu of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions, and people 65 years of age and older are at an increased risk for flu complications. The seasonal flu vaccine is recommended for everyone six months of age and older without contraindications.”
For additional information about immunizations, log onto www.cdc.gov/vaccines.