Thousands of children get ill each year in the United States from diseases that could have been prevented by routine childhood immunizations.
The current immunization schedule that is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention aims to protect children from 14 preventable diseases. These diseases range from the increasingly rare, like polio and diphtheria, to the more prevalent, like chickenpox and whooping cough. The CDC estimates that about 42,000 deaths and 20 million cases of disease are prevented by routine immunization in each birth cohort. This results in a savings of about $13.6 billion in direct costs.
In the 1950s nearly every child developed measles and many lost their lives due to this disease and its complications.
Today, thanks to the help of safe and effective vaccinations in the U.S., very few physicians graduating from medical school this year will ever even see a single case of measles throughout their career. Unfortunately our fight against these diseases is far from over. Due largely to unvaccinated populations, we continue to have outbreaks of some of these preventable diseases across the country.
In 2012 the U.S. had about 60 documented cases of measles and more than 41,000 cases of whooping cough (pertussis). Most of the deaths associated with these outbreaks were in children younger than 1. The best way to protect children from 14 serious childhood diseases like these is to give them all of the recommended immunizations by age 2.
For the past 19 years, the CDC, in conjunction with local and state health departments, healthcare professionals and community leaders, have celebrated an annual National Infant Immunization Week during April. This year, Touro University California, in partnership with the Vallejo City Unified School District and Solano Coalition for Better Health, is helping to make a difference.
During the week of April 20-27 community partners, with recognition by the Solano Board of Supervisors, will observe and promote National Infant Immunization Week. Through these joint efforts week will be promoted throughout the county at community clinics, in local newspapers and at community events.
At 9:15 a.m. April 25, an “Immunization Awareness” event at Vallejo’s Elsa Widenmann Elementary School, 100 Whitney Drive, will be held in observance of the week. The event is sponsored by Supervisors Erin Hannigan and John M. Vasquez.
Please join us in the fight against preventable diseases, and help us to protect the children in our community. We encourage you to make vaccinating your children a priority, and to talk to family and friends about protecting their children with vaccines.
A list of Solano County clinics and resources that offer childhood immunizations can be found on the Touro University California website at http://externalrelations.tu.edu/niiw.
For more information about National Infant Immunization Week, or childhood vaccinations, please speak with your child’s pediatrician, or visit the CDC website at www.cdc.gov/vaccines.
Dr. Tami Hendriksz, FACOP, FAAP, is a Pediatrician and Assistant Professor of Medicine at Touro University California, a partner of Solano Coalition for Better Health.