Portions of the following article are from the Centers for Disease Control website.   National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW), April 23 through 30), is observed annually to highlight the importance of protecting infants from vaccine-preventable diseases and celebrate the achievements of immunization programs and their partners in promoting healthy communities. Since 1994, NIIW has served as a call to action for parents, caregivers, and healthcare providers to ensure that infants are fully immunized against 14 vaccine-preventable diseases.

This year’s NIIW will be held in conjunction with the Pan American Health Organization’s (PAHO) Vaccination Week in the Americas (VWA). Hundreds of communities across the United States and throughout the Western Hemisphere are expected to participate in NIIW and VWA by planning community awareness, education, and media events to promote infant and child immunizations to parents, caregivers, and health care professionals.  Awareness and education events are being planned in conjunction with state and local health departments, PAHO, and the United States-Mexico Border Health Commission in sister cities sites along the U.S.-Mexican border. More than 40 countries throughout the Western Hemisphere are expected to work together on VWA to highlight the need for routine vaccinations for infants and children.

Several important milestones already have been reached in controlling vaccine-preventable diseases among infants and adults worldwide. Vaccines have drastically reduced infant death and disability caused by preventable diseases in the United States. In addition:

  • Through immunization, we can now protect infants and children from 14 vaccine-preventable diseases before age two.
  • In the 1950s, nearly every child developed measles, and unfortunately, some even died from this serious disease. Today, few physicians just out of medical school will ever see a case of measles during their careers.
  • In March 2005, CDC announced that rubella is no longer a major health threat to expectant mothers and their unborn children, thanks to a safe and effective vaccine, high vaccine coverage.
  • In September 2010, CDC announced that childhood immunization rates for vaccines routinely recommended for children remain at or near record highs.

Yet without diligent efforts to maintain immunization programs in the United States and to strengthen them worldwide, vaccine-preventable diseases will remain a threat to children. As illustrations, it’s only necessary to consider the 2010 California outbreak of whooping cough where over 8,000 cases were reported in the state and where there were 10 infant deaths, or measles, which takes the lives of more than 100,000 children globally each year. 

We should all be thankful for the development of vaccines that protect our children from many childhood diseases.  Years ago, as kids, we all knew that when one of us caught measles, chicken pox, mumps, and other illnesses, we’d be next!  Prior to development of a vaccine for polio, most children who contacted the disease have been affected for the remainder of their lives.   Now, we have the advantage of knowing that our little ones will not have to go through several of these diseases.  That’s a good thing for both children and parents.    Don’t take a chance with your children’s health by delaying getting the required vaccinations at the proper time.  Also, encourage your friends to be diligent about having their children receive their innoculations.   Thankfully, we live in an age where we can take advantage of medical research and technology, in order to stay healthy.  Let’s start our little ones off right! 

This observance begins on Saturday, April 23, the day after Good Friday, continuing through April 30th.  We wish everyone a safe and happy Easter week-end!  

Source: Centers for Disease Control