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With several outbreaks of preventable diseases being reported around the world and in the United States, the Pennsylvania Department of Health is reminding parents of the importance of immunizing their children against severe illnesses, including measles, hepatitis and whooping cough (pertussis).

“It is essential that not only children are up-to-date on immunizations, but that adults are up-to-date on their immunizations as well,” Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said. “Vaccines are the best way to protect yourself from a number of serious diseases. Getting your vaccinations can help protect others, such as those with compromised immune systems, who cannot get vaccinated."

Levine said vaccines are necessary to protect infants, children and teenagers from serious childhood diseases. Vaccine-preventable diseases can be dangerous, even resulting in hospitalization or death.

Children can still be vaccinated, even if they have not previously been vaccinated. Levine said that discussion can happen with a child's doctor to see which vaccines are needed.

Vaccines are also recommended for adults to prevent such diseases as hepatitis, influenza, pneumonia, shingles and whooping cough. Other vaccine recommendations vary based on age, lifestyle, medical conditions, occupation, past vaccinations and travel destinations.

The department offers immunization clinics year-round, in which any child or adult without insurance coverage can get their vaccines at one of the state health centers or local health departments if they meet the requirements.

Anyone looking to visit a local immunization clinic to receive vaccinations should call 1-877-PA-HEALTH (1-877-724-3258) to schedule an appointment.

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