Image Credit: Dawn
Irrespective of your specialty, August is a time to reassess your patients’ health, your own health, as well as your families’ health. August is National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM) and together, healthcare providers are encouraged to heighten awareness about immunizations. Vaccinations have functioned to protect us, prevent the spread of disease, and create immunity against conditions without us having to get sick first. The development of vaccinations have nearly eradicated conditions that once plagued persons nationally and around the globe. They have also protected adults from contracting common illnesses such as the flu and pneumonia which are often debilitating and under grave circumstances, can cost an individual their life.
In recent years there has been increased hesitancy among some parents and patients themselves to receive vaccines. Consequently, conditions that were once obliterated in the United States have made a slow comeback. Measles is merely one example of a disease that has spread and increased as a result of parents declining to vaccinate their children. Despite the CDCs attempts to educate parents on the importance of vaccines as well as the government's ongoing efforts to stress the significance, the debate still charges on.
As physician assistants, our responsibility is not to control our patients but rather provide them with knowledge laying down a foundation which enables them to make responsible decisions. The National Public Health Information Coalition (NPHIC) has simplified the process of providing valuable resources to our patients and their families. They have devised a communication toolkit that contains important information related to vaccines including vaccine schedules, graphics and links to web resources to aid in patients understanding. Depending upon a patient’s age and demographics, tool kits are structured to indicate whichever vaccinations are necessary. Subdivided categories are: Pregnant Women, Babies & Young Children, Pre-teens and Teens, Adults, and School Aged Children. These educational toolkits can be downloaded, printed, and shared with patients at no cost. They are easy to read, informative, and aid in explaining the vital role vaccines play in protecting ones health.