STATE — During National Infant Immunization Week (April 23-30), the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) is highlighting the importance of protecting infants from vaccine-preventable diseases and supporting health care providers and public health partners as they hold events to encourage healthier communities.
“Vaccines protect individuals, they protect communities, and they enable the medical community to greatly reduce the chances of an outbreak of disease that would become a major health crisis,” said Acting Commissioner Mary O’Dowd. “I urge everyone to support National Infant Immunization Month by participating in events being held by health care organizations across New Jersey.”
Infants are particularly vulnerable to infectious diseases; that is why it is critical to protect them through immunization. Each day, nearly 12,000 babies are born in the U.S. and all of them will need to be immunized against 14 vaccine preventable diseases before age two.
According to the 2009 National Immunization Survey, approximately 67 percent of New Jersey children ages19 – 35 months received the recommended vaccine doses compared to the US National average of approximately 70 percent. These vaccines provide protection against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis, polio, measles, mumps and rubella, haemophilus influenza B, hepatitis B and chickenpox.
Because of the success of vaccines in preventing disease, parents often are unaware that children are at risk for so many serious and life-threatening diseases. However, vaccine-preventable diseases are still a threat to children. The CDC reports that as recently as 2010, California recorded more than 8,000 cases of whooping cough, resulting in the death of 10 infants; and worldwide, 100,000 children die each year of measles.
Throughout National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW), local health care organizations across New Jersey will be extending hours, hosting educational events, and organizing community-wide immunization awareness walks.
Since 1994, the last week in April has been designated and celebrated nationally as NIIW. National Infant Immunization Week highlights the importance of protecting infants from vaccine-preventable diseases and celebrates the achievements of immunization programs and their partners in promoting healthy communities.
In 2011, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is partnering with the Pan American Health Organization’s (PAHO) Vaccination Week in the Americas (VWA) to hold community events across the United States and throughout the Western Hemisphere. Hundreds of communities are expected to take part in celebrating NIIW.
For more information regarding vaccinations and NIIW week, visit http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/events/niiw/index.html
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