August is National Immunization Awareness Month

Theme for second week is Back to School

National Immunization Awareness Month occurs every August and provides an opportunity to highlight the value of immunization across the lifespan. This year, the focus is on four weekly themes which include: A Healthy Start (babies and pregnant women); Back to School (children, preteens, and teens); Off to the Future (young adults); and Not Just for Kids (adults).

The Back to School theme for the second week, August 10–16, focuses on getting children up to date on their vaccines. This theme is timely because the beginning of the school year is right around the corner.   

Schools are a prime venue for transmitting vaccine-preventable diseases, and school-aged children can easily spread disease to their families and others with whom they come in contact. Vaccines are among the safest and most cost-effective ways to prevent disease, and most schools require children to be up to date on vaccinations before starting school in order to protect the health of all students.

Younger children aged 4 years to 6 years are due for boosters of four vaccines: DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis), varicella, MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella), and polio. Older children, such as preteens and teens, need Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis), MenACWY (meningococcal conjugate vaccine), and HPV (human papillomavirus) at 11 to 12 years of age. In addition, the influenza vaccine is recommended for all children aged 6 months and older.

Parents and caregivers should be educated about the benefits and risks of vaccinations and encouraged to check their child’s immunization record and ensure it is up to date. They should also be encouraged to take advantage of any health care provider visit (e.g., routine checkups, sick visits, physicals for sports or college) to ask about needed vaccinations and have their children vaccinated.

Following are a few ideas to celebrate National Immunization Awareness Month’s (NIAM) Back to School week:

  • Update your materials with the latest information provided in the NIAM Communication Toolkit or use the key messages to develop your own materials.
  • Post social media messages on your organization’s Facebook and Twitter pages using the hashtag “#NIAM14.” Use the social media messages from the NIAM Communication Toolkit  as they are, or tailor them as you see fit for your audience(s).
  • Download PSAs (available in English and Spanish) to promote preteen and teen immunizations.  Ask your local radio stations to play them at times of day to reach parents of preteens and teens.
  • Download and print factsheets, flyers, and posters and distribute them to health care and community settings.
  • CDC’s adolescent immunization communication team will be conducting a media buy during the months of July and August. If you are interested in placing any of these ads on your site during NIAM please e-mail CDC has each ad available in the standard Web sizes, so please be sure to let the agency know which ad you would like and what standard size you need.
  • Place matte articles in newsletters, on your website, or in local news outlets. The matte articles provided in the communication toolkit assist in: educating and motivating parents to talk to their child’s health care professional about vaccines; and encouraging health care professionals to strongly recommend vaccines at the recommended ages. You can also tailor the articles to your particular audience(s) to maximize their impact. You can find more matte articles at:
  • Place NIAM logos and banners on your website and/or social media platforms to highlight your participation in NIAM.
  • Include links to CDC’s Preteens and Teens Vaccines website and You Are The Key website on your website, in your materials, or on your social media platforms.
  • Share your plans for NIAM by completing this online form, and see what other organizations have planned for NIAM.