April 18–25 is National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW), a part of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) World Immunization Week initiative. During this week, health organizations from all six WHO regions will promote immunization and advance equity in the use of and access to vaccines. Next week, while continuing to effectively vaccinate infants and children, increase vaccination rates, and ensure healthy futures for infants, NACCHO encourages local health departments (LHDs) to celebrate their success and continue to strive for increased disease prevention through vaccination.
Vaccines are among the most successful and cost-effective public health tools available for preventing infectious disease and death. Vaccines protect not only individuals but entire communities by preventing and reducing the spread of infectious diseases. From infants to adults, timely immunization and vaccinating according to the recommended schedule from CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is the best way to protect individuals and communities from serious disease and infection. Since 1994, local and state health departments, national partners, parents, and providers have collaborated to continue to ensure that infants and children are immunized during NIIW and throughout the year.
Routine childhood immunization in infants within one year of their birth prevents about 20 million cases of disease and about 42,000 deaths. It also saves about $13.5 billion in direct healthcare costs.1 It’s easy to think that vaccine preventable diseases no longer exist; however, most vaccine preventable diseases still exist somewhere in the world and are just a plane ride away from the United States. For instance, in 2014, the United States experienced the highest number of measles cases, 644 cases in 27 states since measles was eliminated in 2000.2 Recent increases in unvaccinated people and international travelers has resulted in a resurgence of measles domestically.
To promote NIIW in your community, visit CDC’s website for resources and use these sample messages:
- Vaccines are among the most successful and cost-effective public health tools available for preventing disease and death. They help protect not only vaccinated individuals but also entire communities by preventing and reducing the spread of infectious diseases. Among children born during 1994–2013, vaccination will prevent an estimated 322 million illnesses, 21 million hospitalizations, and 732,000 deaths over the course of their lifetimes.
- Immunization is a shared responsibility. Families, healthcare professionals, and public health officials must work together to help protect the entire community.
- Healthcare professionals remain parents’ most trusted source of information about vaccines for their children. They play a critical role in supporting parents in understanding and choosing vaccinations.
For additional key messages visit CDC’s NIIW key messages website. The CDC also tracks 2015 local and state activities for NIIW. If you are conducting a NIIW 2015 activity, be sure to share with the public health community through submitting a NACCHO story from the field and completing this form for CDC’s NIIW website.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2015). NIIW (National Infant Immunization Week). Retrieved on April 13, 2015, from http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/events/niiw/overview.html
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2015). Measles Cases and Outbreaks. Retrieved on April 13, 2015, from http://cdc.gov/measles/cases-outbreaks.html