Health Department Launches Back to School Ad Campaign to Remind New Yorkers to Get Vaccinated

Beginning this school year, all children attending school or child care in New York City must be fully immunized unless they have a valid medical exemption

Children should be up-to-date on vaccines before the first day of school or child care

During National Immunization Awareness Month, the Health Department reminds New Yorkers that vaccines prevent infectious diseases that cause sickness, hospitalizations and death

August 28, 2019 — As parents and children prepare to go back to school, the Health Department is reminding New Yorkers about the importance of vaccines with a new ad campaign. The campaign “Don’t Hesitate. Vaccinate!” reminds parents and guardians to get their children vaccinated on time. The campaign will run online, in bus shelters, subways, and in local newspapers in English (PDF), Spanish (PDF), Yiddish, and Traditional (PDF) and Simplified Chinese (PDF). A video version of the campaign featuring Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot will run online in English and Spanish.

“Vaccines are one of the best tools we have to prevent and reduce infectious diseases that cause sickness, hospitalization, and even death,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot. “Unfortunately, misinformation about the safety and efficacy of vaccines has caused some to delay or refuse vaccination. It’s crucial that all New Yorkers protect themselves and their loved ones against these preventable diseases by getting vaccinated.”

Vaccination not only protects the person receiving the vaccine, it also helps prevent the spread of disease and protects those most vulnerable to serious complications, including infants and young children, the elderly, pregnant persons and those with chronic conditions and weakened immune systems who may not be able to get vaccinated. With school approaching, the Health Department also reminds parents that vaccines are required for children to attend child care and schools. Beginning this school year, all children attending school or child care in New York City must receive all scheduled vaccines unless they have a valid medical exemption. Under a new state law, religious exemptions will no longer be accepted in place of vaccination.

Young children, smiling, sitting at a table in a classroom. Poster text states: Don’t hesitate. Vaccinate! Vaccines are safe, effective and keep our children healthy.

Within the last 10 years, communities throughout New York City have experienced outbreaks of meningococcal disease, pertussis (whooping cough), mumps, measles and hepatitis A. Every year, more New Yorkers die from influenza and pneumonia than from any other infection.

Despite the effectiveness and importance of vaccines, only about three-quarters of young children ages 19 months to 3 years have received all recommended vaccines. Low vaccine coverage is associated with an increased risk of transmission of vaccine-preventable diseases and outbreaks.

Adolescents should receive the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine to protect against six HPV-related cancers, tetanus, diphtheria, and whooping cough vaccine (Tdap) and meningococcal (MenACWY) vaccine, at the same visit and on time at 11 years of age. Adults should speak to their doctors about the vaccines they need based on their age and risk factors and about keeping their vaccine records up-to-date by using the Citywide Immunization Registry. Learn more about vaccines (PDF).

“As parents our first priority should be to keep our children healthy and one of the most crucial ways to do that is to vaccinate against infectious diseases. Vaccinating your school age children keeps them safe and contributes to overall public safety. Thank you to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene for your outreach efforts on this important issue,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

“I commend the efforts of the New York City Department of Health for reminding New Yorkers about the importance of getting vaccinated, especially as children are preparing to start the new school year,” said State Senator Gustavo Rivera, Chair of the Senate Health Committee. “Vaccines save lives so I urge my fellow New Yorkers to visit their local health care providers promptly and get the necessary vaccinations to protect their health in the short and long term."

“Vaccines save lives. As a parent, I know my husband and I will be speaking to our pediatrician to make sure our young daughters are up to date on their shots before they start the school year,” said State Senator Brad Hoylman. “I’m grateful to Governor Cuomo, Mayor de Blasio, state Department of Health Commissioner Zucker, and NYC DOHMH Commissioner Barbot for their leadership on this vital issue of public health and safety.”

“The medical community resoundingly agree that vaccination is the best way to protect children from preventable childhood disease,” said State Senator Simcha Felder. “Before the kids head back to school, I strongly encourage everyone to ensure that kids are up to date on their vaccines.”

Assembly Member Jeffrey Dinowitz said: “Protecting the health of our children must be a top priority, and that is exactly what the recent change in state law around school vaccine requirements accomplishes. Everyone who is medically able to get vaccinated must do so before attending school with other people’s kids. That is how we stop the spread of preventable diseases, protecting the most vulnerable among us – particularly those with compromised immune systems or those who are too young to get vaccinated.”

“As our children head back to school, it is critical that parents know that vaccines are safe, effective and are required for all students who attend school in New York City,” said Council Member Mark Levine, Chair of the Committee on Health. “Making sure your children are properly vaccinated in time for the school year will not only prevent them from missing class time but will also protect your family and your community from infectious diseases. We want to be clear that the misinformation being circulated about vaccines not being safe is completely false and not supported by medical research. All parents should feel confident and secure in vaccinating their children.”

Vaccines are recommended throughout the lifespan based on age, lifestyle, occupation, travel destinations, medical conditions and vaccines received in the past.

Vaccination Recommendations

  • Everyone 6 months of age and older, should receive an annual flu vaccine.
  • Pregnant persons should get the flu and Tdap vaccines to protect themselves and their newborns from influenza and other infections.
  • Children are recommended to receive vaccines protecting them against harmful diseases such as measles, mumps, chicken pox (varicella), invasive pneumococcal and Haemophilus influenzae disease and whooping cough by 18 months. Starting at age 4 children entering kindergarten need two doses of the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) and chickenpox vaccines, and a DTaP and polio booster.
  • Adolescents also need the HPV vaccine to protect against HPV-related cancers, the meningitis vaccine to protect against bacteria and viruses that cause meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain) and the Tdap vaccine to protect against tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough.
  • Adults need a Tdap vaccine to protect against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis if they did not get one as a child. All adults need a tetanus booster shot every 10 years.
  • Adults at high risk for acquiring hepatitis A virus (HAV) need hepatitis A vaccine. Those at high risk include: travelers to countries where HAV is common, men who have sex with other men (MSM), people who use recreational drugs, those with unstable housing or who experience homelessness and people with chronic or long-term liver disease such as hepatitis B or hepatitis C infection.
  • Adults at high risk for acquiring hepatitis B virus (HBV) need hepatitis B vaccine. Risk factors for acquiring HBV include: those whose sex partners have hepatitis B, MSM, those who inject drugs, travelers to countries where HBV is common, people with hepatitis C virus infection, those with chronic liver disease, individuals with HIV and people who are in jail or prison.
  • Adults 50 years and older need the shingles (herpes zoster) vaccine.
  • Adults with certain medical conditions and those who are 65 years and older need to be vaccinated against pneumococcal disease.
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