National Infant Immunization Week

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National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW) is a national 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.

For 2018, NIIW is April 21-28, 2018, and this year it is celebrated as part of World Immunization Week, an initiative of the World Health Organization. Since 1994, local and state health departments, national immunization partners, healthcare professionals, community leaders from across the United States, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have worked together to highlight the positive impact of vaccination on the lives of infants and children.

Here are some facts about Vaccines and Immunizations:

  • Vaccines are among the most successful and cost-effective public health tools available for preventing disease and death. Just as an example, among children born between 1994-2016, vaccination will prevent an estimated 381 million illnesses, 24.5 million hospitalizations, and 855,000 deaths over the course of their lifetimes.
  • Giving babies the recommended immunizations by age two is the best way to protect them from 14 serious childhood diseases, like whooping cough and measles. Parents are encouraged to talk to their doctor's health care provider to ensure that their child is up-to-date on immunizations.
  • Protecting babies from whooping cough begins before a baby is even born. All pregnant women are recommended to receive the whooping cough vaccine or Tdap during Each Pregnancy. This will help protect babies from whooping cough until they can receive their first whooping cough vaccine at 2 months.

Here are some myths and untrue statements about Vaccines and Immunizations:

  • Myth 1: Vaccines Cause Autism: There was a study in 1997 which made this claim. Since then, this paper has been completely discredited due to procedural errors, undisclosed financial conflicts of interest, and ethical violations. Follow-up medical research did not find any link between vaccines and autism
  • Myth 2: Vaccines can contain preservatives that are dangerous: I get a lot of questions about thimerosal which is a compound that prevents the vaccine from being contaminated by bacteria. It's true that there were concerns about this in 1999, and thimerosal was removed from nearly all vaccines back at that time. Now, there are thimerosal-free vaccines, and follow-up research has shown that there is no connection between a vaccine containing thimerosal and medical problems.
  • Myth 3: Now that major illnesses have largely disappeared, we really don't need vaccines anymore: I wouldn't bet on this. Remember the 2014 Mumps outbreak at Ohio State University? Remember the 2015 Measles outbreak in an Ohio Amish community or the 2015 Measles outbreak at Disneyland in California? And, there are more examples out there which show why adequate and appropriate immunization is required.

If you have questions or concerns about vaccines or immunizations, I encourage you to talk with your physician or health care provider. I also encourage you to check out this link from the CDC about "Recommended Vaccines By Age," and this link from the Ohio Department of Health about "Immunization Information For School." 

Thanks to WKBN for including by thoughts in this article "Doctors Stress Importance Of Vaccinations in Children." I also encourage you to check out the WKBN Facebook page where there are still negative comments about vaccines. Still a lot of education needs to be done.