Community Update – April 24th, 2022

Community Update - Week of April 24th, 2022
By: Dr. Cynthia Morrow, Health Director, Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts

Community Update
April 24th, 2022

By: Dr. Cynthia Morrow, Health Director,
Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts

This week is National Immunization Awareness Week (April 25-April 30). Vaccines, cited as one of the greatest public health interventions, have long been recognized as the safest and most powerful, successful and cost-effective public health tools available to prevent infectious disease and death from those diseases. This week provides us the opportunity to reflect on and be thankful for our routine childhood vaccines as well as the more recent development and distribution of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines.

It’s easy to think that vaccine preventable diseases, such as measles or chickenpox, no longer exist; however, most vaccine preventable diseases still exist somewhere in the world and are just an airplane ride away from the United States. All parents should take this moment to make certain their children are caught up on routine immunizations that shield them against 14 childhood diseases like tetanus, polio, and diphtheria. Across the globe, routine childhood immunizations prevent approximately 20 million cases of disease and about 42,000 deaths in children under the age of one! They have also resulted in a net savings of about $406 billion in averted healthcare costs.*

With respect to COVID-19, a recent study found that through March 2022, COVID-19 vaccination efforts in the U.S. prevented an estimated 2 million deaths and 17 million hospitalizations. An analysis projects that there would have been about 66 million additional infections and nearly $900 billion in associated health care costs in the absence of vaccination.

Immunization is a family affair. Vaccines protect not only individuals but entire communities by preventing and reducing the spread of infectious diseases. It is up to all of us to make sure our loved ones are protected. This is particularly important for parents of infants, who may be too young to be vaccinated themselves. If you are expecting a baby, now is the time to get your COVID-19 vaccine alongside your flu shot and tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis vaccine. Making sure you are current on all of your vaccines will protect you and your child against these potentially life-threatening diseases.

Most health plans are required to cover recommended vaccines at all ages without charging a deductible or copayment. Any child without coverage should be able to get vaccinations without a financial burden. Parents can contact their health care provider or local public health department for information about how to obtain free vaccines for eligible kids. Visit vdh.virginia.gov/immunization/ for more information.

During this National Immunization Awareness Week, please join us in celebrating our progress in our fight against infectious diseases. Let’s use our knowledge and perseverance to encourage as many people as possible to check their vaccination status. Together, we can save lives!

*https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/events/niiw/overview.html