Vaccinating on Time is Important for Disease Protection

Updated 16 weeks ago Edited from a Press Release

Hurricane, WV - This week marks National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW) an annual observance to highlight the importance of protecting infants from vaccine-preventable diseases and to celebrate the achievements of immunization programs in promoting healthy communities throughout the United States. This is the 25th anniversary of NIIW. When the NIIW observance was established in 1994, the nation was similarly in the midst of a serious measles outbreak and communities across the U.S. were seeing decreasing immunization rates among children.

In response to that measles outbreak the Vaccines For Children (VFC) program was established to provide vaccines at no cost to children who might not otherwise be vaccinated due to inability to pay. As a result, the VFC program has helped increase childhood immunization coverage levels and reduced disparities in vaccination coverage among young children. Many vaccine-preventable diseases became uncommon in the United States and measles was declared no longer endemic in the United States in 2000. It has been estimated that 71 million cases of measles would have occurred in children born in the VFC era without immunization.

The U.S. is again in the midst of a measles outbreak; this one fueled by importations of measles from other countries and vaccine refusal, rather than by issues of access and cost. Since the start of 2019, there have been over 700 confirmed cases of measles in 22 states. This is the greatest number of cases that the U.S. has experienced since measles were declared eliminated in the U.S.

In West Virginia, about 98% of kindergarteners have received the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine as a result of WV’s school immunization requirements. However, about 10% of young children 19-35 months of age in West Virginia have not received the MMR vaccine. Further, about 1 in 4 young children in WV are missing vaccines that are recommended at that age.

Vaccinating children on time is the best way to protect them against 14 serious and potentially deadly diseases before their second birthday. “The recommended immunization schedule is designed to protect babies early in life, when they are vulnerable and before it’s likely that they will be exposed to diseases,” said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, Director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Parents should check with their child’s healthcare provider to make sure that their child is fully up-to-date on his/her vaccines. Different vaccines are recommended at different ages, so if your child has missed an annual well-child exam, he/she may have missed some vaccines as well.

Families who need help paying for childhood vaccines should ask their healthcare professional about the VFC program. For help in finding a local healthcare professional who participates in the VFC program, parents can contact their local health department or visit https://www.cdc.gov/features/vfcprogram.

If you have questions about childhood immunizations, talk with your child’s healthcare provider. More information about childhood vaccines is available at www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents.

Comments powered by Disqus