Learn about babies’ vaccinations during National Infant Immunization Week
By Mary Wade Triplett
More than half a century later, it’s a very different picture for babies born in the new millennium. Many of today’s practicing physicians have never seen a case of measles. And polio has been eradicated from the United States since 1979.
Thanks to immunizations, we can now protect infants and children from 14 vaccine-preventable diseases before the age of 2. Routine childhood immunizations in one birth cohort prevents an estimated 381 million illnesses, 24.5 million hospitalizations and 855,000 early deaths over the course of this group’s lifetimes.
And although that should be enough reason to make sure your child gets all of his or her immunizations, this comes with a bonus: Preventing illnesses through vaccines gives the country a net savings of $360 billion in direct costs and $1.65 trillion in total societal costs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The National Immunization Survey has consistently shown that childhood immunization rates for vaccines routinely recommended for children remain at or near record levels. And with National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW) beginning on Saturday, we want to keep up that trend.
Established in 1994 and now in its 25th year, NIIW provides the opportunity to highlight how successful vaccines have been and to remind parents that immunizations are an important part of raising a healthy baby. The longer it’s been since some of these diseases have been common in the U.S., the more younger parents might not realize how not very long ago, children of earlier generations were not so lucky when it came to disease prevention.
One way to highlight the success of vaccines is to illustrate what can happen when large enough numbers of parents do not follow through with scheduled inoculations.
An example of the seriousness of vaccine preventable diseases is an increase in measles cases and outbreaks that were reported in 2014. The United States experienced a record number of measles cases—667 from 27 states—reported to CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. This was the greatest number of cases in the U.S. since measles was eliminated in 2000.
It’s very easy these days to learn about childhood immunizations. The CDC publishes an easy-to-read chart showing which vaccines babies should get, how many doses and when. More in-depth information can be found at this link.
The 10 immunizations and the 14 diseases they protect against are: Hepatitis B, rotavirus, DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis, or whooping cough), Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type b), PCV13 (pneumococcal disease), IPV (polio), flu (influenza), MMR (measles, mumps and rubella), varicella (chickenpox) and Hepatitis A.
Set to run from Saturday to April 28, NIIW is celebrated as part of World Immunization Week, an initiative of the World Health Organization (WHO). In addition to promoting immunizations, the goal also is to advance equity in the use of vaccines and universal access to vaccination services.
That’s where Monongalia County Health Department’s Clinical Services program comes into play. Through the Vaccines for Children Program (VFC), children ages 18 and younger can come to MCHD for immunizations if they meet certain criteria: if they are uninsured or underinsured because their insurance does not cover vaccinations or if they are American Indian or Alaskan Native.
Children who are enrolled in West Virginia Medicaid and West Virginia CHIP also qualify for this program. The Vaccines for Children Program is federally funded and provides vaccines recommended by the Advisory Committee of Immunization Practices (ACIP) and approved by CDC.
If you have any questions or want to make an appointment, call MCHD Clinical Services at 304-598-5119. And remember: Your child’s vaccination plan is one of the most important schedules for you to keep.