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Vaccines most successful, cost-effective public health tools

Protection provided by immunizations against vaccine preventable diseases is one of the 20th century’s greatest public health achievements.

Former Surgeon General of the United States, C. Everett Koop said that “…health care is vital to all of us some of the time, but public health is vital to all of us all of the time…”

Vaccines are among the most successful and cost-effective public health tools available for preventing disease and death. They not only help protect vaccinated individuals, but also help protect entire communities by preventing and reducing the spread of infectious diseases.

Most parents choose the safe, proven protection of vaccines. Many parents today may not have heard of some of the newer vaccines or the serious diseases they prevent. Unfortunately, babies today still suffer from vaccine-preventable diseases like measles, whooping cough and the flu. These diseases can be especially serious for infants and young children.

By following the recommended immunization schedule, parents protect infants and children with immunity early in life before children are exposed to potentially life-threatening diseases.

The need for vaccines does not end with childhood. Adults should have vaccine protection as well. Current adult immunizations include tetanus, whooping cough, pneumonia, hepatitis and shingles vaccines. Annual influenza vaccination is recommended for all persons age 6 months and older.

Immunization is a shared responsibility. Families, health care professionals and public health officials must work together to help protect the entire community. Health care professionals remain families’ most trusted source of information about vaccines. They play a critical role in supporting families in understanding and choosing vaccinations.

Vaccine-preventable diseases still circulate in the United States and around the world, so continued vaccination is necessary to protect everyone from potential outbreaks. Even when diseases are rare in the United States, they can be brought into the country, putting unvaccinated families at risk.

A recent measles outbreak in New York infected 58 persons. Ohio’s current mumps outbreak, centered in Franklin County, has so far caused over 200 cases, a huge increase over last year when Ohio reported only 12 cases.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Vaccines for Children (VFC) program. VFC helps provide vaccines to children (0-18 years old) whose parents or guardians may not have insurance and helps many more children have a better opportunity of getting their vaccines according to the recommended immunization schedule.

The VFC program has made a significant contribution to the elimination of disparities in vaccination coverage among young children and adolescents. The Clark County Combined Health District participates in the VFC program.

Currently, the United States has the safest, most-effective vaccine supply in its history. The long-standing vaccine safety system ensures that vaccines are as safe as possible. As new information and science become available, this system is, and will continue to be, updated and improved.

Please discuss your family’s immunization status with your health care provider. The Clark County Combined Health District is available to answer questions about vaccines and vaccine-preventable diseases as well. You may contact the Health District at 937-390-5600 and ask to speak with any of the nurses about vaccines.

Immunizations are given at the Health District every Monday, Wednesday and Friday on a walk-in basis from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. You may also schedule appointments on Tuesday or Thursday. Many insurance plans are now accepted for payment of immunization services. Please bring all necessary identification and insurance cards for evaluation at the time of service.

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