Celebrating National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW) as a part of National Immunization Awareness Month in the last week in April. NIIW celebrates and promotes the benefits of immunizations, and improving the health of children two years old or younger. Local and state health departments, national immunization partners, healthcare professionals, community leaders from across the U.S. and CDC work together through NIIW to highlight the importance of vaccination on the lives of infants and children.
Immunization Achievements in the U.S.
Several key achievements have been reached in controlling vaccine-preventable diseases among infants worldwide:
- Vaccines have greatly reduced infant death and disability caused by preventable diseases in the US;
- Through immunization, we can now protect infants and children from 14 vaccine-preventable diseases before age two.
- In the 1950’s, nearly every child developed measles, and some even died from it. By comparison, today, many practicing physicians have never seen a case of measles.
Outbreaks Can Still Occur
One example of the seriousness of vaccine preventable diseases is an increase in measles cases or outbreaks that were reported in 2014. The United States experienced a record number of measles cases, with 667 cases from 27 states reported to CDC’s NCIRD. This was the greatest number of cases in the U.S. since measles was eliminated in 2000. Therefore, infant immunization continues to require great attention by parents and other infant caregivers.
Opportunities for NIIW
NIIW provides an opportunity to:
- Highlight the dangers of vaccine-preventable diseases, especially to infants and young children, and the importance and benefits of childhood immunizations.
- Educate parents and caregivers about the importance of vaccination in protecting their children from birth against vaccine-preventable diseases.
- Focus attention on our immunization achievements and celebrate the accomplishments made possible through successful collaboration.
- Step up efforts to protect children against vaccine-preventable diseases and thereby give them a healthy start in life.
- Encourage better communication between parents and health care professionals.
- Remind parents and caregivers that they need to make and keep needed immunization appointments.
- Provide parents and caregivers with the toll-free CDC number, 800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636), to locate a facility that offers immunizations through the Vaccines for Children’s program, a federally funded program that provides vaccinations at no cost to children whose parents cannot afford to pay for them.
NIIW also supports efforts to:
- Provide web-based resources for state and local health departments and local coalitions to develop and implement a communication strategy that will increase awareness of the importance of immunization and improve local vaccine coverage rates.
- Create events that attract community support and media interest in order to increase national and local coverage of stories on the importance of childhood immunization.
- Provide a forum to pitch news stories, provide media hooks to interest local media in developing feature stories on the importance of childhood immunization, and create opportunities for local media interviews with immunization experts.
Remember the Health Power motto: Knowledge + Action = Power!