National Immunization Awareness Month

In 1796, the first vaccine was administered to protect the populace against smallpox. Since then, researchers and scientists have developed and tested a multitude of vaccines against diseases such as cholera, yellow fever, tuberculosis, polio, measles, Lyme disease, and hepatitis A. These preventive measures are a way of cutting down the risk of contracting fatal pathogens. Vaccines work by building up your immune system so that if and when you are exposed to pathogens, your body is prepared to fight against it. Being inoculated against a particular illness not only bolsters your protection, but also that of those around you.
Sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and coordinated by the National Public Health Information Coalition, National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM) is held every August to highlight the importance of vaccination. The Public Health Foundation cites three key points that the NIAM campaign focuses on:

  1. vaccines are important in protecting people against disease
  2. vaccines are recommended for all stages of one’s life, and
  3. having a reliable health care provider who is knowledgeable is integral in making sure people get the vaccines they need.

Throughout the NIAM campaign, each week in August targets a specific theme. The first week focuses on babies and pregnant women, the second on children, pre-teens, and teens, followed by young adults in the third week. The last week during NIAM is dedicated to promoting vaccines among adults.

HealthLandscape, in collaboration with the Health of the Public and Science (HOPS) division of the American Academy of Family Physicians, has created an Immunizations Mapper. This mapping application displays state level immunization information for legislative purposes. It is grouped into three main topics covering vaccine-specific coverage levels for children 19-35 months, adolescents 13-17 years, and influenza/pneumococcal vaccination coverage. Users can select a variety of vaccines to display the coverage rate for DTaP, MMR, Varicella, Tdap, HPV, and influenza and streptococcus pneumoniae. When users click on the data table feature of the application, they can view data on which states have the authority to operate an Immunization Information System (IIS) for adults or children, reporting requirements, whether children and adults can opt out via a consent form, and the state registry website.
Percent coverage among children 19-35 months for the vaccine against measles, mumps, and rubella (source: CDC)

HealthLandscape users can also find vaccine related measures in Community HealthView, our extensive data library for state and county level data on topics ranging from demographics to veterans to chronic health to economics. Users will find several indicators related to vaccine coverage including percentage of the population 65 and over with an influenza vaccine in the past year and percentage of the population 65 and over that ever had a pneumococcal vaccine. Both of these indicators are from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) for data years 2006-2012.

Percent adults 65 and over with an influenza vaccine (source: BRFSS)

Legislators, health professionals, and public health experts can use tools like HealthLandscape’s Immunizations Mapper and Community HealthView during the NIAM campaign to pinpoint areas to target resources and to collect information on current legislation as they relate to vaccine coverage.

Dave Grolling
GIS Strategist, HealthLandscape

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