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National Infant Immunization Week

Posted on April 26th, 2014

National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW) is an annual observance to promote the benefits of immunizations and to improve the health of children two years old or younger. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the week-long observance established to remind parents and caregivers how important it is to protect children against 14 vaccine-preventable diseases through immunization.

Several important milestones already have been reached in controlling vaccine preventable diseases among infants and adults worldwide. Vaccines have greatly 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.
  • Routine childhood immunization in one birth cohort prevents about 20 million cases of disease and about 42,000 deaths. It also saves about $13.6 billion in direct costs.
  • The National Immunization Survey has consistently shown that childhood immunization rates for vaccines routinely recommended for children remain at or near record levels.

It’s easy to think of these as diseases of the past. But the truth is they still exist. Children in the United States can — and still do — get some of these diseases.  For example, in 2012, preliminary data from CDC reports more than 41,000 cases of whooping cough (pertussis) in the US, including 18 deaths. Most of these deaths were in children younger than 1 year old. This was the highest number of pertussis cases in any one year in the US since 1955.

Our Health Director, Dr. Lloyd Hofer, is a pediatrician.  In this video he shares how he has seen a decrease in preventable diseases as a result of vaccinations.