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DHSS Press Release

Dr. Kara Odom Walker, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Pager 302-357-7498

Date: August 20, 2018


DOVER (August 17, 2018) - As part of National Immunizations Awareness Month (NIAM) this August, the Division of Public Health (DPH) is reminding Delawareans to make sure they are up to date on all recommended vaccinations. With the new school year fast approaching, now is the time for parents and caregivers to talk to their doctor and be sure their school-aged children are up to date, as well.

"Immunizations are important at all ages, and especially for children," said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. "When people are not vaccinated, they are at increased risk of catching vaccine-preventable diseases, which can be spread to others, including infants, who may be too young to be fully vaccinated, and people with weakened immune systems due to cancer or other health conditions. Vaccination not only protects the individual vaccinated, but also the rest of their family and the community as a whole."

Many people know that vaccines including diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DTaP), Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR), Hepatitis B, Polio (IPV OR OPV) and Varicella are required to enter kindergarten, but most don't know that a Tdap booster and the meningococcal vaccine are required for entry to ninth grade. The HPV Vaccine series is also strongly recommended for all children starting at 9 years of age. HPV is short for human papillomavirus, which is a group of more than 150 related viruses. Some HPV types can lead to cancer, and the HPV vaccine can prevent infection with the types of HPV that most commonly cause the disease. Vaccination requirements for Delaware school students can be found on the Department of Education website at:

The DPH Immunization Program performs a school immunization survey each year to assess the vaccination coverage for children attending school in Delaware. The survey helps to identify gaps in coverage and trends in vaccine exemptions, and results are shared with the Delaware Department of Education. The 2017 survey covered 1,053 students and completion rates reported were as follows:

These rates surpass the Healthy People 2020 target of 90 percent for each vaccine series. At the 2018 National Immunization Conference, Delaware also was recognized for outstanding progress toward the Healthy People 2020 targets for influenza vaccination among children 6 months to 17 years during the 2016-2017 influenza season.

NIAM 2018 focuses on four key populations: pregnant women; babies and young children; pre-teens and teens; and adults.

During pregnancy, parents-to-be often think about baby names, nursery colors and prenatal vitamins, but expectant mother's also should think about protecting themselves and their baby from vaccine-preventable infections. It is important to get the flu vaccine because changes in the mother's immune, heart and lung functions during pregnancy make her more likely to get seriously ill from the flu. Getting the Tdap vaccine with each pregnancy ensures newborns are protected from diseases such as whooping cough when they are still too young to be vaccinated.

Today's childhood vaccines protect against serious and potentially life-threatening diseases, including meningitis, mumps, cancer (HPV vaccine), polio, measles, whooping cough and chickenpox.

In addition, thousands of adults in the U.S. become ill from infectious diseases each year. Many are hospitalized and some even die from diseases that could be prevented by vaccines. The vaccines that adults need are determined by such factors as age, lifestyle, underlying health conditions, locations of travel and previous vaccinations.

All Delawareans should talk to their health care professionals to make sure they are up to date on vaccines recommended for them. Your children may not be able to return to school if they have not received certain required vaccines.

Parents can find out more about the recommended immunization schedule at For more information on the DPH Immunization Program, visit

A person who is deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blind or speech-disabled can call the DPH phone number above by using TTY services. Dial 7-1-1 or 800-232-5460 to type your conversation to a relay operator, who reads your conversation to a hearing person at DPH. The relay operator types the hearing person's spoken words back to the TTY user. To learn more about TTY availability in Delaware, visit

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations. DPH, a division of DHSS, urges Delawareans to make healthier choices with the 5-2-1 Almost None campaign: eat 5 or more fruits and vegetables each day, have no more than 2 hours of recreational screen time each day (includes TV, computer, gaming), get 1 or more hours of physical activity each day, and drink almost no sugary beverages.

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.