This week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in partnership with state health departments and national immunization partners across the United States, highlight National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW).
NIIW is held from April 16-23, 2016 and promotes the benefits of immunizations among children younger than 2 years of age. It is celebrated as part of World Immunization Week (WIW), an initiative of the World Health Organization (WHO) designed to “promote immunization, advance equity in the use of vaccines and universal access to vaccination services, and enable cooperation on cross-border immunization activities.”
CDC officials note that vaccines have drastically reduced infant death and disability caused by preventable diseases in the United States. Infant immunization protects children from 14 vaccine-preventable diseases before they are 2 years of age, and routine childhood immunization prevents about 20 million cases of disease and 42 000 deaths, and saves $13.5 billion in direct costs.
“It’s easy to think of these as diseases of the past,” the CDC notes on the agency’s website. “But the truth is they still exist. Children in the United States can—and do—still get some of these diseases.”
The agency notes an outbreak of measles reported in 2014 when the United States experienced a record number of cases. There were 667 cases from 27 states, which was the highest rate in the United States since measles was eliminated in 2000.
In order to highlight the dangers of vaccine-preventable diseases and the benefits of childhood immunization, NIIW aims to educate parents and caregivers about the importance of vaccination, remind them to make and keep immunization appointments, and encourage communication between parents and physicians.
The CDC also provides information to help families locate immunization facilities through the Vaccines for Children program, which is a federally funded program that provides vaccines at no cost to children whose parents cannot afford them.
Throughout the week, NIIW will support childhood immunization with events that will attract community support to increase national coverage, provide online resources for state and local health departments to increase awareness, recognize local partners for their year-round efforts on child immunization coverage, and create opportunities for local organizations and agencies to work together as immunization partners.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. NIIW (National Infant Immunization Week). Accessed April 21, 2016. http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/events/niiw/overview.html.