National Immunization Awareness Month - Polio Virus

International travelers should discuss inactivated polio vaccine prior to departure with certified doctors, nurses or pharmacists

There is arguably no single health intervention more cost-effective than immunization, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO).

Over many years, the international community has endorsed the value of vaccinations to prevent infectious disease outbreaks and, with new, innovative vaccines, chronic diseases that are caused by infectious agents.

The National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM) is an annual observance held in August to highlight the importance of vaccination for people of all ages.

The NIAM event is important since the vaccination rate in the USA and around the world continues to be unacceptable, says the CDC and WHO.

In the USA, only 72 percent of children between the ages of 19 and 35 months have completed the recommended immunization schedule.

Influenza vaccination rates in the USA are even lower, ranging from 31.8 percent to 67.2 percent among children and adults, reports the CDC.

The unique value of vaccines was the driving force behind the Decade of Vaccines, an effort launched at the 2010 World Economic Forum and supported by many stakeholders to extend the full benefits of immunization to all by 2020.

Governments welcomed the initiative, with 194 member states, including the USA, endorsing the Global Vaccine Action Plan (GVAP), a framework to prevent millions of deaths from vaccine-preventable diseases by 2020.

The GVAP aims to strengthen routine immunization, accelerate control of vaccine-preventable diseases, with polio eradication as the first milestone.

Unfortunately, poliovirus continues to spread in countries such as Afghanistan, Nigeria, and, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea and Somalia.

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Since 2000, the inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) is the only polio vaccine (4 doses) given to people in the USA, says the CDC.

In the USA, certified travel pharmacies offer relevant vaccines.

Travel vaccination appointments can be scheduled at Vax-Before-Travel.

The CDC suggests international travelers check their polio immunization status with a healthcare provider before visiting these countries.

The CDC Vaccine Price List provides the private sector vaccine prices for general information, and vaccine discounts can be found here.

Vaccines, like any medicine, can have side effects, says the CDC. You are encouraged to report negative side effects of vaccines to the FDA or CDC.

Check with your state or local health department to see if they have additional immunization resources you can use during NIAM or plans to celebrate the month.

NIAM is sponsored by the National Public Health Information Coalition (NPHIC). NPHIC, in collaboration with CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, developed communication toolkits to help educate people of all ages about vaccines.