August Is the Time for Awareness About Immunizations for All Ages

August is a bittersweet month, when thoughts about the looming school year begin to creep in on the languid summer-vacation state of mind of school-aged children and their parents. Reminders that autumn is coming begin to appear—some inconspicuous, like the increasingly earlier sunsets, and others as subtle as a stuck doorbell, like the back-to-school sales at big-box retailers.

Summer’s waning also brings reminders about children’s immunizations for the upcoming school year, and all of that attention can make it easy for patients and health care providers to forget that vaccines aren’t just for children, and that adults can protect their health and the health of others by being immunized against serious infectious diseases such as influenza, measles, and pneumonia.

To promote vaccinations and emphasize their importance in people of all ages, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in collaboration with the National Public Health Information Coalition (NPHIC), have designated August as National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM).

Immunization is critical to protect the health of adults who are older or who have chronic health conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (as mentioned in this issue’s “Pulmonary Pitfalls” feature, beginning on page 740, and “Top Papers of the Month,” on page 759), asthma, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Generally speaking, all adults should receive an annual influenza vaccine, a one-time dose of the tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (Tdap) vaccine if they did not receive it in adolescence, and a tetanus and diphtheria booster vaccine every 10 years. Adults aged 60 years or older should get the shingles vaccine, and adults aged 65 years or older should get one or more pneumococcal vaccines.

Still, the CDC notes that in 2014, only 20% of adults aged 19 years or older got the Tdap vaccination, only 28% of adults aged 60 years or older got the shingles vaccination, and only 20% of at-risk adults aged 19 to 64 years received the pneumococcal vaccination. Plus, only 44% of adults aged 18 years or older received an influenza vaccine during the 2014-2015 flu season. These statistics and much more are in the NPHIC’s NIAM Toolkit at

That’s why the CDC asks all clinicians, whether or not they provide immunizations, to routinely evaluate patients’ vaccine needs and urge them to stay up-to-date. To help, the Vaccines 360 specialty section at offers the latest vaccination information and reinforces your essential role in ensuring that your patients are fully immunized. There you’ll be able to easily access clinical information from the pages of Consultant, as well as the latest news about current vaccines from hepatitis A to zoster, and about those in the pipeline, including a Zika virus vaccine. Access Vaccines 360 at

While the August sun beats down, remind your patients to wear sunscreen, do frequent tick checks, stay hydrated—and get vaccinated!

Michael Gerchufsky, ELS, CMPP
Managing Editor, Consultant