National Infant Immunization Week Set

MAYVILLE – National Infant Immunization Week, April 26 to May 3, 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. Vaccinating children on time is the best way to protect them against 14 serious and potentially deadly diseases before their second birthday.

“As a mom, a nurse and a public health professional, I know that most parents are aware of what vaccines are recommended for their babies, but if vaccination rates drop, some diseases may increase,” said Christine Schuyler, the county’s director of Health and Human Services. “By vaccinating your children on time, not only are you protecting your child, you are also protecting the entire community by preventing and reducing the spread of infectious diseases.”

Immunizations are considered to be one of the 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Over time, successful vaccination campaigns have contributed to the elimination or near-elimination of some diseases in the United States, like polio. But today, rates of some diseases are increasing and could continue to do so if vaccination rates decrease. Serious side effects following vaccination, such as severe allergic reaction, are very rare. The disease prevention benefits of getting vaccines are much greater than the possible side effects for almost all children.

“Vaccination is very safe and effective,” Schuyler said. “While some discomfort, redness or tenderness at the site of injection may occur, this is minimal compared to the pain and suffering caused by the diseases these vaccines prevent.”

There has been a resurgence of measles and whooping cough – Pertussis – over the past few years. In 2013, more than 11,000 cases of whooping cough were reported, with cases in every state. According to Schuyler, public health staff investigated 53 cases of Pertussis in Chautauqua County in 2013. Most currently, there was an outbreak of measles in New York City and Mumps in Ohio.

Unfortunately, some babies are too young to be completely vaccinated and some people may not be able to receive certain vaccinations due to severe allergies or weakened immune systems. This leaves them vulnerable to vaccine-preventable disease. To help keep them safe, it is important that adults and children who are able to get vaccinated are fully immunized.

Most vaccinations are covered by health insurance; for those children without insurance, the Vaccines for Children program provide vaccinations at no cost. To find out more about the VFC program, visit www.cdc.gov/vaccines/programs/vfc/ or ask your child’s health care professional.

For additional information about the importance of infant immunization, contact your healthcare provider, visit www.cdc.gov/vaccines, or contact the Public Health Division of the Chautauqua County Department of Health and Human Services at 1-866-604-6789.