Immunizations are a shield of protection against outbreaks of illness.
Fully immunized students contribute to the larger shield of protection for their school. During the 2016-17 school year, 4.91% of Buncombe County kindergartners were not fully immunized due to a non-medical reason. This percentage was the highest in NC—almost 4.5 times higher than the NC average. Over the past two decades, this percentage has increased, putting all of us at unnecessary risk. This trend needs to change.
Most young people in the U.S. have never seen the devastating effects that diseases like polio, measles, or whooping cough (pertussis) can have on a family. Whooping cough, measles, and mumps had practically disappeared from the U.S. over the past several decades thanks to immunizations, but these diseases are making a comeback in communities with low immunization rates.
The health of our community depends on very high numbers of immunized people. Unfortunately, it only takes a few people who are not immunized to create cracks in the shield. This leads to outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases, which can cause illness, missed days of school and work, and even death. Keeping our community shield strong is especially important for those who cannot be immunized or are most vulnerable to illness, including infants, the elderly and those with weak immune systems or other medical conditions.
“The bottom line is that immunizations help shield our community from vaccine-preventable diseases,” said Dr. Jennifer Mullendore, the Buncombe County Medical Director. “As a family doctor, a public health official and a mom, I urge parents to get their children immunized and to follow the doctor-recommended immunization schedule.
“Consider what it would be like if your child was exposed to a disease like pertussis or measles, both of which can be deadly. It’s also important to remember that immunizations don’t end in childhood.
“There are immunizations for all stages of life including pregnancy, young adulthood, and older age. It’s also important to recognize that our personal decisions about immunizations have significant consequences not just for ourselves and our children, but the rest of our community. Protect yourself, those you love, those who cannot be vaccinated, and our entire community by getting recommended immunizations.”
If you are unsure of your immunization status or your child’s immunization status, please call your medical provider. You can also call or visit the BCHHS Immunization Clinic located on the ground floor at 53 S. French Broad Ave. in downtown Asheville. You can stop by between 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (please check in by 4:30 p.m.). The phone number for the Immunization clinic is (828) 250-5096, and the web address is www.buncombecounty.org/immunize. They can provide all of the immunizations that you need. They accept most insurances, and some children and adults may qualify for free vaccines.
BCHHS also recommends getting your flu vaccine for the upcoming flu season. Flu vaccine is available throughout the community and at the Immunization Clinic. Join the Shield of Protection!