ATLANTA — During National Infant Immunization Week, observed April 19-26, the Georgia Department of Human Resources, Division of Public Health reminds parents about the benefits of immunizing their children against vaccine preventable diseases.
Research shows that vaccines have a huge impact on a child’s overall health because they protect against serious diseases, even death, and promote a child’s immunity level.
“We want parents, caregivers and communities to understand just how important vaccines are to preventing disease and death among children,” said Dr. Stuart Brown, director of the Division of Public Health. “Following the CDC recommended vaccine schedule ensures that Georgia’s kids are protected against serious preventable diseases.”
Immunizations are considered to be the most successful and cost-effective public health tools available to help parents safeguard their children against vaccine preventable diseases.
Each day, nearly 12,000 children are born in the United States who will need to be immunized against 14 diseases before the age of two. Because infants and young children are extremely vulnerable to infectious diseases it is critical that they are protected through immunizations. If not, the risk of developing serious diseases and passing them on to others increases for these children.
A statewide resource available to service families is the Vaccines for Children Program, which began more than 15 years ago and is coordinated by the Georgia Immunization Program. VFC, which seeks to raise childhood immunization levels in the U.S., provides immunization services and resources to families who might not otherwise receive vaccines for numerous reasons including financial barriers.
The Georgia VFC Program supplies more than 2.5 million doses of vaccine to public health clinics and other providers, including hospitals and private practitioners throughout the state on an annual basis. More than 75 percent of the vaccines given to children in Georgia are administered in private practice offices.
The 2006 National Immunization Survey, released by the Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC), ranked Georgia fourth in the nation for immunizing children against vaccine preventable diseases. Of the children between 19 and 35 months old surveyed, 81.4 percent received the recommended six-vaccine series of immunizations on time; the 2006 national average is 77 percent which is slightly higher than the 76.1 percent in 2005.
Georgia was also recently honored by the CDC for having the fourth highest immunization coverage rates for 2 year olds. The award was presented during the National Immunization Conference held last month in Atlanta.
National Infant Immunization Week is an annual observance which highlights the importance of protecting infants from vaccine-preventable diseases and celebrates the achievements of immunization programs in promoting healthy communities.
For more information about National Infant Immunization Week, the VFC Program or general immunization information, please visit http://health.state.ga.us/programs/immunization.