DHEC Recognizes S.C. Immunization Awareness Week: ‘Vaccines have been saving lives and protecting people from death and illness for generations’
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
July 29, 2021
COLUMBIA, S.C. ― During South Carolina Immunization Awareness Week, which is Aug. 1-7, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) and South Carolina Immunizations Coalition are emphasizing how fundamental vaccines have been and continue to be in protecting public health and preventing deadly disease outbreaks.
Because of scientifically developed vaccines, many diseases that used to cause death and severe illness are no longer a serious threat. Vaccines are considered one of the most successful public health interventions in history for safeguarding human life. South Carolina Immunization Awareness Week coincides with August being National Immunization Awareness Month.
“Vaccines have been saving lives and protecting people from death and illness for generations,” said Dr. Brannon Traxler, DHEC Public Health Director. “Just like vaccines have been overwhelmingly successful in saving populations from polio, tetanus, hepatitis, measles, whooping cough, the flu and many other diseases, we have lifesaving vaccines available that protect us from COVID-19 today.”
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. CDC-recommended vaccine schedules by age are available online and can also be discussed with your health care provider or your child’s pediatrician.
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. DHEC provides information and resources about school and childcare requirements online.
“Without a doubt, one of the most effective ways to keep children and their families and classmates healthy is to keep them up to date on their recommended immunizations,” said Dr. Traxler. “But vaccines aren’t just for children. Teenagers, young people and adults of all ages all benefit from staying on track with their immunizations. Adults should make sure they receive a TDaP booster every 10 years to protect against whooping cough as well as a yearly flu shot, and those 50 and older can help prevent shingles and certain lung and bloodstream infections thanks to safe and effective vaccines.”
As part of South Carolina Immunization Awareness Week, DHEC, the South Carolina Immunizations Coalition and the South Carolina Adolescent Immunization Task Force are focusing each day on the importance of vaccinations for a certain age group.
“The South Carolina Immunizations Coalition is a group of stakeholders, health care providers, and community advocates who work together to raise awareness for vaccinations, encourage South Carolinians to stay up-to-date with recommended vaccines, and share tools and resources to improve community engagement,” said Cheryl Anderson, RPh, with The Carolinas Center for Medical Excellence (CCME).
The coalition is co-led by DHEC and CCME and is supported by more than 40 organizations, including the South Carolina Hospital Association, South Carolina Pharmacy Association, Office of Rural Health, American Cancer Society, South Carolina Academy of Pediatrics and several faith-based organizations, insurance providers, pharmaceutical companies, and community advocates.
The South Carolina Adolescent Immunization Task Force collaborates, educates, and promotes access and equity to improve adolescent vaccination rates, eliminate vaccine-preventable diseases, and protect the health of South Carolinians.
As COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations surge in South Carolina and across the country, all eligible South Carolinians are advised to get fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as possible.
“Unvaccinated people are the reason the pandemic is ongoing,” said Dr. Traxler. “Nearly 9,900 South Carolinians have lost their lives to COVID-19, and those individuals would have given anything to have access to a vaccine that could’ve saved their lives, as we all have today.”
Find a free COVID-19 vaccine provider near you at scdhec.gov/vaxlocator. In addition, remember to keep your other vaccines current as well. To learn more about Immunization Awareness Week and other vaccine information for South Carolina, visit scdhec.gov/vaccinations.