August is National Immunization Awareness Month

By The Courier-Gazette Editorial Board | Aug 10, 2017

While we still have a few precious weeks of summer left to enjoy, it is also a good time to start thinking and planning for the coming school year and winter.

That may be the reason August is National Immunization Awareness Month.

"Getting vaccinated according to the recommended immunization schedule is one of the most important things a parent can do to protect their child’s health," according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Diseases can quickly spread among groups of children who aren’t vaccinated. Whether it’s a baby starting at a new child care facility, a toddler heading to preschool, a student going back to elementary, middle or high school – or even a college freshman – parents should check their child’s vaccination records."

The organization noted that some child care providers, preschool programs, schools and colleges are prone to outbreaks, and there may be requirements to keep updated on shots.

Check with your child’s doctor to make sure your child is protected, and remember that immunizations are also required for newborns, expectant mothers, teens and adults. Updating them is an ongoing health precaution.

"Immunizations represent one of the greatest public health accomplishments of the 20th century. The purpose of [this awareness month] is to celebrate the benefits of vaccination and highlight the importance of vaccination for people of all ages."

The stakes are high. The first case of measles in Maine in 20 years was reported in June in the Portland Press Herald.

In the same article, it was reported that "Maine consistently has one of the highest immunization opt-out rates in the country – usually ranking in the top 10 for unvaccinated students, according to the federal CDC."

The CDC reported in 2013 that on an "average day, 430 children – 18 every hour – die of measles worldwide. In 2011, there were an estimated 158,000 measles deaths. ...Before the U.S. vaccination program started in 1963, measles was a year-round threat in this country. Nearly every child became infected; each year 450 to 500 people died, 48,000 were hospitalized, 7,000 had seizures, and about 1,000 suffered permanent brain damage or deafness."

More recently, the agency reports: "The annual number of people reported to have measles ranged from a low of 37 people in 2004 to a high of 667 people in 2014. In 2016, there were 70 provisionally reported cases."

The experts agree that vaccines are safe. The CDC reports:

Vaccines are thoroughly tested before licensing and carefully monitored after they are licensed to ensure that they are very safe.

Vaccines are the safest and most effective way to prevent several diseases. They not only protect vaccinated individuals, but also help protect entire communities by preventing and reducing the spread of infectious diseases.

Currently, the United States has the safest, most effective vaccine supply in its history. The country’s longstanding vaccine safety system ensures that vaccines are as safe as possible.

If you have concerns about vaccines, talk to your doctor and your children's doctor. Do not rely on rumors or fads pushed by celebrities and conspiracy theorists. Your health is too important to trust to amateurs.

For more information, visit cdc.gov/vaccines.

Best of luck to a departing friend

This week we are sad to report that Kim Lincoln is stepping down as editor of The Camden Herald.

Lincoln started working for Courier Publications right out of college in 2003, and she has been with us in one capacity or another ever since. During those years she has made many friends both within the company and in the larger community and she will be missed around the office.

We wish her the best in all of her future endeavors.

With her departure, News Director Daniel Dunkle will take over leadership duties for both The Courier-Gazette and The Camden Herald. Reporter Susan Mustapich has been promoted to assistant editor for The Camden Herald. Her long experience in covering Camden will provide institutional knowledge to the Herald going forward.

In addition, Courier-Gazette Copy Editor Sarah Reynolds has been promoted to assistant editor of the Courier.

As always, press releases for both the Courier and the Herald can be emailed to news@villagesoup.com;  Herald staff can be contacted by phone at 236-8511, Courier staff at 594-4401.

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