By: Savannah Scarborough, Follow South Jersey Intern
SOUTH JERSEY – School is starting back up, and the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) encourages all families to stay up to date with their own and their children’s vaccinations in recognition of Governor Murphy’s announcement that August now represents New Jersey’s National Immunization Awareness Month.
The Murphy Administration emphasizes the importance of immunization, especially when returning to the classroom, to protect all individuals from vaccine-preventable diseases, including COVID-19.
According to the NJHOL, a total of 17 serious diseases can be prevented among children and adolescents through vaccines which help reduce the spread of illness to others in classroom settings, childcare centers, and other communities.
The NJDOH recommends a plethora of vaccines for individuals of a specific age. For example, anyone six months or older is encouraged to take a yearly flu vaccine. Additionally, all ages six months and older are told to take the COVID-19 vaccine, while people aged 65 and older are eligible for a second bivalent dose, and those with weakened immune systems can get one additional dose.
The NJDOH says the flu vaccine can reduce flu symptoms, healthcare provider visits, and hospitalizations. Also, the NJDOH states that the COVID-19 vaccine will help prevent serious illness and that the two vaccines can be taken simultaneously.
Lastly, the NJDOH explicitly encourages those planning to become pregnant or are pregnant to check with their healthcare provider to ensure they are up to date with shots. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that all women during pregnancy should receive the flu and whooping cause vaccine.
All NJDOH-recommended immunizations are covered by most healthcare insurance plans. If an individual’s healthcare insurance does not cover immunizations and needs help paying, individuals can refer to the Vaccines for Children program.
The Vaccines for Children program works to provide either low or no-cost vaccines to children who are Medicaid-eligible, uninsured, underinsured, or American Indian/Alaska Native. If adults seek vaccine insurance assistance for themselves or their child(s), individuals should seek coverage through the 317-funded program where they can qualify for low or no-cost vaccines.
Additionally, during Governor Murphy’s announcement that August 2023 marks Immunization Awareness Month, Murphy also announced the state’s “Hot Shots for Tots” immunization campaign awardees.
“Hot Shots for Tots” is a volunteer-based campaign that uses a point incentive program for child care and preschool facilities. Each participating facility ran immunization-related activities to gain points leading them to a gold, silver, or bronze level. More than a dozen facilities, including Gibson’s Kidstown Childcare in Port Elizabeth in South Jersey, reached the gold-level award.
Most vaccines should be available at local healthcare provider offices, pharmacies, workplaces, community health clinics, and health departments.
Click here to view a complete list of awardees for the “Hot Shots for Tots” campaign.
Click here to learn more about vaccines that the NJDOH recommends and immunization schedules.
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