Editorial by the Niagara County Department of Health
National Infant Immunization Week is being held April 20 through 27. This is an annual observance to highlight the importance of protecting infants from vaccine-preventable diseases and to celebrate the achievements of immunization programs in promoting healthy communities throughout the U.S.
Vaccines are among the most successful and cost-effective health tools available for preventing disease and death. They not only help protect vaccinated individuals, but also help protect entire communities by preventing and reducing the spread of infectious diseases.
Immunization is a shared responsibility. Families, health care professionals and public health officials must work together to help protect the entire community. Health care professionals remain parents' most trusted source of information about vaccines for their children. They play a critical role in supporting parents in understanding and choosing vaccinations.
Giving babies the recommended immunizations by age 2 is the best way to protect them from 14 serious childhood diseases, like whooping cough (pertussis) and measles. Immunizations provide immunity early in life, before children are exposed to potentially life-threatening diseases. Even though most serious vaccine preventable diseases are rare in the U.S., foreign travelers can bring them into the country, putting unvaccinated children at risk.
During 2012, there was an increase in pertussis cases in a majority of states. Today, there are cases in every state and the country is on track to have the most reported cases since 1959. There have been more than 35,000 cases of pertussis reported across the U.S., including 16 deaths. The majority of these deaths were among infants younger than 3 months of age.
Young children rely on the champions in their lives to keep them safe and healthy. Those champions may be parents, doctors, nurses or other health care professionals who share scientifically accurate and up-to-date information about vaccines with parents. The U.S. has the safest, most effective vaccine supply in its history. As new information and science become available, this system is and will continue to be updated and improved.
Today, all children have the opportunity to be immunized and protected from disease. No child should have to suffer or die from a vaccine preventable disease. Love them. Protect them. Immunize them.
For more information on immunizations for children, or to schedule an appointment, call the Niagara County Department of Health Immunization Program at 278-1903. Recommended and required immunizations are offered free of charge through the State Department of Health Vaccines for Children Program to eligible infants and children through 18 years of age.