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National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW) – April 27 to May 4

Author: Jacquelyn Langdon/Monday, April 22, 2019/Categories: Health

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National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW) is an annual observance to promote the benefits of immunizations and to improve health of children two years old or younger.  Routine childhood immunizations help to protect infants and children from 14 vaccine-preventable diseases before age two. Some diseases that once injured or killed thousands of children are no longer common in the United States, primarily due to safe and effective vaccines.  Polio is one example of the positive impact that vaccines have had in the United States.  It was once America’s most feared disease, causing death and paralysis across the country.  Thanks to vaccination, the U.S. has been polio-free since 1979.  Though many diseases are rare in this country, they still occur around the world and can be brought into the United States, putting unvaccinated children at risk.  Continued vaccination is still necessary to keep outbreaks from happening.  If infants are not immunized, the consequences can be severe. 

One example is an increase in measles cases or outbreaks in the United States.  From January 1 to April 11, 2019, 555 individual cases of measles have been confirmed in 20 states. This is the second-greatest number of cases reported in the U.S. since measles was eliminated in 2000. The outbreaks are linked to travelers who brought measles back from other countries where large measles outbreaks are occurring.  The CDC advises people to get vaccinated against measles, this is especially important before traveling internationally.

Niagara County Public Health Director Daniel Stapleton shared, “The United States currently has the safest, most effective vaccine supply in history. Vaccines are only given to children after careful review by scientists, doctors and healthcare professionals.  Once in use, vaccines are continually monitored for safety and efficacy.” 

Like any medication, vaccines can cause side effects, but a decision not to immunize a child also involves risk.  It is a decision that subjects the child and others who come into contact with him or her to be at risk of contracting a disease that could be dangerous or deadly.  Public Health Nurse Beverly Lawler says, “Side effects from vaccine are minimal compared to the pain, discomfort, risk of injury and death from the diseases these vaccines prevent.” 

The federally funded Vaccines for Children (VFC) program can assist uninsured and underinsured families by providing vaccines free of charge to qualifying children. To help keep your babies safe, it is important that you and other family members are fully immunized. 

To schedule an appointment for you or your child to receive immunizations, call the Niagara County Department of Health Immunization Program at (716) 278-1903.

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