National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW) is April 26 – May 3, 2014, and the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) urges all Georgians to protect infants from vaccine-preventable diseases by getting them vaccinated on time, every time.
“Vaccinating your infant is the best way to protect them from serious illnesses like whooping cough and measles,” said Steven Mitchell, Director of the Georgia Immunization Program. “We urge parents to speak with their pediatrician or healthcare provider at every visit to make sure their infant is up-to-date on vaccinations.”
According to the most recent data available through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Immunization Survey, Georgia immunization rates for Tdap were below the national average, ranking them 39th compared to other states. Similar to national trends, the number of pertussis cases in Georgia decreased in 2013 with 269 pertussis cases reported to DPH compared to the 330 cases reported in 2012. Of the 269 cases reported, 54 (20.1 percent) were hospitalized and of these 54, 42 were infants less than 1 year old. Georgia saw one pertussis-related infant death reported in 2013.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the weeklong observance established to remind parents and caregivers how important it is to protect children against vaccine-preventable diseases through immunization. It is a call to action for parents, caregivers and healthcare providers to ensure that infants are fully vaccinated against 14 vaccine-preventable diseases.
2014 also marks the 20th anniversary of the Vaccines for Children (VFC) Program. VFC helps provide vaccines to children whose parents or guardians may not be able to afford them, and helps many more children have a better opportunity of getting their vaccines according to the recommended immunization schedule. The VFC Program contributed directly to a substantial increase in childhood immunization coverage levels nationally and made a significant contribution to the elimination of disparities in vaccination coverage among young children.
According to the CDC, the United States currently has the safest, most effective vaccine supply in its history. Vaccines are given to children only after long and careful review by scientists, doctors and healthcare professionals. The disease-prevention benefits of getting vaccines are much greater than the possible side effects for most children. Vaccination is the best way to protect others you care about from vaccine-preventable diseases.
Young children rely on the champions in their lives to keep them safe and healthy. These champions may be parents who keep up with their child’s vaccination schedule, doctors, nurses or other healthcare professionals who share accurate, up-to-date information about vaccines with parents. The Georgia Department of Public Health encourages everyone – in observance of National Infant Immunization Week – to protect their future: contact your pediatrician or your local public health department to ensure your infant is up-to-date on vaccinations.
When it comes to vaccinations, get them on time, every time!
For more information on vaccinations, visit http://dph.georgia.gov/immunization-section.