Every year, thousands of adults in the United States suffer serious health problems, are hospitalized, or even die from diseases that could have been prevented by vaccination. To celebrate the importance of immunizations throughout life – and to help remind adults that they need vaccines, too – ACOG is recognizing August as National Immunization Awareness Month. This is the perfect opportunity to make sure adults are protected against diseases like whooping cough, tetanus, shingles and pneumococcal disease. Let’s not forget the flu either, as flu season is right around the corner!
The specific vaccines adults need are determined by factors such as age, lifestyle, risk conditions, locations of travel, and previous vaccines. Check out the CDC’s Adult Immunization Schedule which has been endorsed by ACOG for the past four years.
Pregnant women are at particular risk of serious complications from vaccine preventable diseases, especially influenza. Newborn babies are also at increased risk and are unable to be vaccinated against most diseases until they are several months old. Getting vaccinated against flu and whooping cough (Tdap) during pregnancy not only protects mom, but also protects her unborn baby until he/she is able to be vaccinated. All pregnant women should receive a flu shot any time during pregnancy, and a Tdap shot between 27-36 weeks.
As ob-gyns we are often the most trusted source of health information to our patients. Our recommendation is absolutely critical in a patient’s acceptance of a vaccination. I strongly encourage all ACOG fellows to assess, recommend, and administer necessary immunizations to your pregnant and non-pregnant patients.
Take advantage of National Immunization Awareness Month by assessing your patients’ immunization status and recommending and offering vaccines when indicated. ACOG has all the tools you need at www.immunizationforwomen.org.
About Mark DeFrancesco
Mark S. DeFrancesco, MD is the president of ACOG through April 2016. He is managing partner at Westwood Women’s Health in Waterbury, Connecticut, a division of Women’s Health Connecticut. Dr. DeFrancesco is a founding member of Women’s Health Connecticut, and served as its chief medical officer for many years. A graduate of Yale University, he received his medical education at the University of Connecticut, where he is currently an assistant clinical professor. Dr. DeFrancesco also earned an MBA from the University of New Haven.