National Infant Immunization Week
Each year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recognizes National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW), an annual observance 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.
In 2019, they are celebrating the 25th anniversary of NIIW. When the observance was established in 1994, immunization programs were facing significant challenges. The nation was in the midst of a serious measles outbreak and communities across the U.S. were seeing decreasing immunization rates among children. NIIW provided an opportunity to draw attention to these issues and to focus on solutions. Communities have continued to use the week each year to raise awareness about the importance of ensuring all children are fully protected from vaccine preventable diseases through vaccination. Today, many immunization programs, partners and communities can celebrate high infant vaccination rates.
2019 also marks the 25th anniversary of the Vaccines For Children (VFC) program. VFC is a federally funded program that provides vaccines at no cost to children who might not otherwise be vaccinated because of inability to pay. The VCF program helps children get their vaccines according to the recommended immunization schedule. It has helped increase childhood immunization coverage levels, making a significant contribution to the elimination of disparities in vaccination coverage among young children.
Vaccines are among the most successful and cost-effective public health tools available for preventing disease and death. They not only help protect vaccinated individuals, but also help protect entire communities by preventing and reducing the spread of infectious diseases. Among children born during 1994-2018, vaccination will prevent an estimated 419 million illnesses, 26.8 million hospitalizations, and 936,000 deaths over the course of their lifetimes.
Because of the success of vaccines in preventing disease, parents may not have heard of some of today’s vaccines or the serious diseases they prevent. These diseases can be especially serious for infants and young children. That is why it is important to follow the recommended immunization schedule to protect infants and children by providing immunity early in life, before they encounter potentially life-threatening diseases. Vaccine-preventable diseases still circulate in the United States and around the world, so continued vaccination is necessary to protect everyone from potential outbreaks. Even when diseases are rare in the U.S., they can still be common in many parts of the world and unvaccinated individuals can bring them to the U.S., putting unvaccinated people at risk. Despite being eliminated in the U.S., public health officials still report measles cases and outbreaks to the CDC. For example, the United States has already experienced outbreaks of measles during 2019.
Vaccination is a shared responsibility. Families, healthcare professionals, and public health officials must work together to help protect the entire community. Healthcare professionals remain parents’ most trusted source of information about vaccines for their children. They play a critical role in supporting parents in understanding and choosing vaccinations.
Source: Centers for Disease Control & Prevention