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August is National Immunization Awareness Month.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recognizes August as National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM). The goal of NIAM is to increase awareness about immunizations across the life span--from infants to the elderly.

Many believe NIAM is a great way to rally local organizations in immunization education efforts. Communities are encouraged to plan local health screenings or fairs, media events and other related immunization outreach efforts during the month to promote the benefits of immunization.

All across the country, as a new school year begins, citizens are making sure their vaccinations are up-to-date.

"August is the perfect time to remind family, friends, coworkers and those in the community to catch up on their vaccinations," according to the CDC. "Parents are enrolling their children in school, students are entering college and health care workers are preparing for the upcoming flu season."

Cities can take advantage of NIAM by encouraging their constituents to take advantage of government sponsored immunization programs. By staying up-to-date on the recommended vaccines, individuals can protect themselves, their families and friends, and their communities from serious, life-threatening infections, lowering the risks of contagion and lowering the costs of health care services.

The following municipalities have created immunization programs that can easily be replicated in most cities.

Aurora, Colo.

A collaborative program between city, county and nonprofit agencies, the Firefighters Shots for Tots has made an impact at immunizing at-risk children in Aurora. For the program, the local fire department provides the clinic locations and trains firefighters and paramedics to administer the shots; the Tri-County Health Department provides nurses, vaccines and medical supplies; and the Colorado Children's Immunization Coalition provides the clinic coordinator, volunteer staff, community outreach and advertising.

The Shots for Tots clinics are held monthly and provide vaccines for diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, hepatitis B, hepatitis A, influenza B, measles, mumps, rubella, polio, varicella and pneumococcus. The program is funded by donations and grants, and all staffing, materials and equipment are provided at minimal cost.

According to Kevin Waters of the Aurora Fire Department, "The program has been very successful in providing greater access to vaccinations against preventable childhood diseases and we look forward to continuing to meet this critical need in our community."

Boise, Idaho

The Central District Health Department's Immunization Action Plan Service assures a high rate of immunization for children in the Boise area. Under the program, WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) staff and Immunization Action Plan Service staff work together to identify participants' immunization status, make recommendations about immunizations, provide incentives, provide immunizations and track progress.

The service also develops models and publishes studies based on its work.

Detroit

The Detroit Health Department's (DHD) Immunization Improvement Project seeks to improve immunization coverage rates for the children ages 3 and under who are seen at DHD primary care clinics and WIC sites in the city. The program's goal is to reach immunization levels of at least 50 percent among 19-35 month olds. DHD provides the overall management and leadership for the project, with the cooperation of the state AmeriCorps Program Office.

The project has a $63,000 budget and is funded through city and federal sources. Accomplishments include an increase in immunization coverage levels within DHD clinics, an increased registry of child immunization records and an increase in up-to-date immunizations for WIC enrollees.

Details: For more information about National Immunization Awareness Month, visit www. cdc.gov/vaccines/events/niam/.
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Title Annotation:United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Author:Squires, Stuart
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 4, 2008
Words:565
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