Vaccinations are one of the most successful public health interventions in history for preventing death and illness, limiting disease spread, and protecting the health and wellbeing of people, communities and entire populations.
Because of scientifically developed vaccines, many diseases that used to cause death and severe illness are no longer a threat. Vaccines have been overwhelmingly successful in saving populations from polio, tetanus, hepatitis, measles, whooping cough, the flu and many other diseases, and we now have lifesaving vaccines that protect us from COVID-19.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends people receive certain immunizations at certain times in their lives to protect them from vaccine-preventable illnesses.
As part of South Carolina Immunization Awareness Week, DHEC and the South Carolina Immunizations Coalition are focusing each day on the importance of vaccinations for a certain age group to help spread awareness about the lifesaving impact of vaccines.
- Monday, Aug. 2: Newborns through 3-years-old. While newborn babies are immune to many diseases because they have antibodies they got from their mothers, this immunity goes away during their first year of life. If an unvaccinated child is exposed to a disease, the child’s body may not be strong enough to fight the disease. Before vaccines, many children died from diseases that vaccines now prevent, such as whooping cough, measles, and polio. Those same germs exist today, but because babies are protected by vaccines, we don’t see these diseases nearly as often.
- Tuesday, Aug. 3: Four- and five-year-olds. It's always better to prevent a disease than to treat it after it occurs. Vaccine-preventable diseases have a costly impact, resulting in doctor’s visits, hospitalizations, and premature deaths. Sick children can also cause parents to lose time from work. For these ages, talk with your child's pediatrician to make sure they're current with diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough (DTaP); polio; measles, mumps and rubella (MMR); chickenpox; and flu shots.
- Wednesday, Aug. 4: Elementary-age children. Delaying or skipping vaccines for elementary-age children may lead to school outbreaks of preventable diseases. If children have not received their vaccines before or during a school outbreak of a vaccine preventable disease, they may be required to stay home for days or weeks. This age group will need booster shots of DTaP and MMR, among other recommended vaccinations.
- Thursday, Aug. 5: Pre-teens and adolescents. Vaccines are one of the best ways to avoid serious and deadly disease, such as can occur from meningitis. Some vaccines can even help prevent types of cancer. Beginning with 11- through 12- year olds, teenagers should get a two-shot series of HPV vaccine.
- Friday, Aug. 6: Adults of all ages. Even if you received the vaccines you needed as a child, the protection from some vaccines can wear off. You may also be at risk for other diseases due to your job, lifestyle, travel, or health conditions. The annual flu vaccine is especially important for adults. By getting vaccinated, you can help protect yourself and your loved ones from disease. Vaccines are available that can help those who are 50 and older prevent shingles and certain lung and bloodstream infections.
In South Carolina, as in other states, certain immunizations are required for children who attend school or day care in order to protect individual children and their families as well as the entire student body, faculty, and community at large from vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks. Learn more about DHEC's current school and childcare requirements.
As COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are rising in South Carolina and across the country, all eligible South Carolinians are advised to get fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as possible. Find a free COVID-19 vaccine provider near you at scdhec.gov/vaxlocator.
Partners supporting South Carolina Immunization Awareness Week, Aug. 1-7, 2021, include Prisma Health, Carolina Centers for Medical Excellence and Health Quality Innovation Network; South Carolina Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics; South Carolina Pharmacy Association; the American Cancer Society, South Carolina Immunizations Coalition; and South Carolina Adolescent Immunization Task Force.