Connected, Protected and Respected: Are Your Immunizations Up To Date?

12/29/2017 04:41 pm ET
Connect, Protect and Respect
Generations United 2017 Photo Contest
Connect, Protect and Respect

While promoting his latest book, Thank You for Being Late, columnist Tom Friedman spoke about healthy communities, saying they “… are where people feel connected, protected and respected.”

All three are relevant to immunizations and key to the role they play in creating healthy communities for people of all ages.

Yet access to age-appropriate vaccinations is in danger of leaving neighborhoods and families unprotected when they don’t need to be.

Immunizations are the most effective means of preventing diseases affecting every segment of the population, particularly the most vulnerable—babies, children and older adults. Vaccines are indispensable in combatting diseases that include zika, the flu, polio and pneumonia.

What is little known is how vulnerable funding for immunizations is when Congress fails to complete appropriations each year. This forces states to govern under unpredictable piecemeal extensions of federal support and the threat of federal shutdowns – an approach that is detrimental for public health and vaccine programs.

These threats persist even as health care providers, the media and others – including Generations United – caution us all to get our “shots.” Through our Valuing Vaccinations Across Generations campaign, Generations United encourages intergenerational conversations about the importance of immunizations.

How do Friedman’s three key elements of healthy communities relate to immunizations?

Easily.

Connected-The decision to vaccinate or not isn’t an individual choice. It can impact everyone you love and come into contact with, even briefly. In fact, three illnesses that are most likely to be passed between older and younger generations-flu, pneumonia and whooping cough-are preventable with immunizations. We are all connected.

Protected-Vaccinations greatly increase your chance of not acquiring a preventable illness. It’s a protection you can provide to those around you.

Respected-Keeping current with your vaccinations demonstrates respect for yourself and your well-being as well as the respect you have for your friends, colleagues and family.

As we look to a new year and make resolutions in hopes 2018 will be wonderful, think about healthy communities. Have a conversation with your family and those you love about the importance of immunizations.

Then take the next step.

Let your Senators, Representatives, and President Trump know that restoring adequate funding for immunizations is essential to protecting the health of all ages.

Make sure they understand you are connecting because if they want to survive the next election, you want to be protected and expect to be respected.

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