August is National Immunization Awareness Month; Are Your Children Up-To-Date?
August reminds us that summer vacation is almost over and school is about to begin. As you begin the annual ritual of shopping for school clothes and school supplies, don't forget the most important ritual of all - making an appointment with health care providers to ensure that your children are up-to-date with their vaccinations. Although most children, as well as parents, would like to avoid this part of the preparations, the benefits of being properly immunized far out-weigh the momentary discomfort of the injection. Immunizations protect children from illnesses and death caused by infectious diseases.

Most immunizations are administered before a child's second birthday; however, there are a series of two or three booster shots that are required before kindergarten and again between the ages of 12 and 15. If your child is off to college this fall, ensure that she has received the Hepatitis A and B vaccines, as well as the Menomune (meningitis) and Varicella (chicken pox) vaccines. If your child is traveling abroad this fall, speak with your family practitioner to ensure all recommended vaccinations have been administered.

In recognition of National Immunization Awareness Month, GovBenefits.gov is highlighting the following benefit programs available for families in need of healthcare assistance and for medical practitioners wishing to participate in the administration of immunizations.

State Children's Health Insurance Program
The State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) is a partnership between the Federal and State Governments that provides health coverage to uninsured children whose families earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but too little to afford private coverage. All states provide immunizations and well baby/well child care at no cost and may cover much more. For more information, visit the State Children's Health Insurance Program.

Immunization Grants
The Vaccines for Children (VFC) program purchases vaccines for children in certain eligibility groups who can't afford to buy vaccines. Doctors can get these vaccines for their patients who qualify by joining the VFC program in their state. For more information, visit the Immunization Grants Program.

To learn more about your family's vaccination needs contact your family physician or your local health department. For more information on vaccines and immunizations visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's website at www.cdc.gov and click on the Vaccine and Immunizations link.