Modified: August 28, 2019 11:29am

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August 28, 2019             

CONTACT: Kara Kane


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Are you and your family up-to-date on your vaccines?

ERIE COUNTY, NY— August is National Immunization Awareness Month, a healthcare observance designed to draw attention to the life-saving benefits of immunization and the fight against the spread of vaccine-preventable diseases.


“Vaccines are safe and effective, and no matter how old you are, there are vaccines that can protect you from serious and life-threatening diseases,” said Erie County Commissioner of Health Dr. Gale Burstein. “Age, lifestyle, risk conditions, travel locations and vaccine history will determine which vaccines are appropriate.”


“Newborn infants, older adults and people with conditions like cancer that weaken their immune system are more vulnerable to infections and may not be able to be vaccinated against some diseases,” said Dr. Burstein. “High vaccination rates in our community provide what is called herd immunity, and that provides another level of protection against disease.”


For Infants and Children

The Erie County Department of Health strongly recommends that parents and caregivers of children follow the schedule of recommended childhood vaccines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This schedule is endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, and it includes protection against 14 diseases.


“As your children head back to school, review what vaccines they have received and what they will need with their health care provider,” said Dr. Burstein. Parents and caregivers should also insist that anyone – adults and children - who will have contact with their children be properly immunized.


For Pre-Teens and Teenagers

The CDC recommends four vaccines for preteens and teens, in addition to those that should have been given under the recommended childhood schedule. These include vaccines for meningitis, HPV (human papilloma virus), Tdap (for tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough/pertussis), and a yearly flu vaccine. “It’s important that children have the HPV vaccine before they are exposed to that virus,” explained Dr.  Burstein. “The HPV vaccine protects against the HPV types that can lead to cancer of the cervix, throat, anus, penis, or vagina and to genital warts.”


For Adults

Adults should use their annual physical to discuss other recommended vaccines based on their age and risk factors. Flu, whooping cough, tetanus, shingles and pneumococcal disease are generally recommended for adults. For men and women under 45 years old, the HPV vaccine can protect against certain cancers and genital warts. And adults born in the United States in 1980 or later who have never had chicken pox (varicella) or who have not received two doses of the varicella vaccine should have a one-time series of two doses.


For Pregnant Women

Women should make sure they are up to date on vaccinations before becoming pregnant, and should review with their health care provider which vaccines they need before and during pregnancy. The CDC recommends that pregnant women receive the whooping cough vaccine, which is included in the “Tdap” vaccine, during the third trimester of each pregnancy. This protects their baby from whooping cough until a vaccine can be given at two months of age.


For Individuals Traveling Outside the United States

Children and adults who are planning international travel should talk to their health care provider at least 4 to 6 weeks before the trip to discuss recommended vaccines. The CDC offers a web site specifically for travelers at


Seasonal Flu

“We are already looking ahead to flu season in Erie County,” offered Dr. Burstein. “The CDC recommends a seasonal flu vaccine for everyone six months of age or older.” Adults over 65 years of age, children younger than five, pregnant women, and people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions should especially be sure to get the flu vaccine each year.  Flu season typically peaks in February, and the best time to get a flu vaccine is as soon as one becomes available in the fall.



Erie County Department of Health Immunization Resources

New York State Department of Health, Immunization:

American Academy of Pediatrics, Healthy Children and Immunizations:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Vaccines:

CDC, Adult Vaccine Assessment Tool: