The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) is promoting National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW), April 21st – 28th to highlight the importance of protecting infants from vaccine-preventable diseases.
Immunization is one of the best ways parents can protect their children against serious diseases. Infants are particularly vulnerable to infectious diseases and the benefit from immunization is great. All infants should be immunized against 14 vaccine-preventable diseases before age two.
Adults who are caring for infants should also be immunized against many of these diseases to help prevent exposing the infants to an infection. Some of these preventable diseases are diphtheria, measles, mumps, pertussis (whooping cough), varicella (chicken pox), and polio.
Vaccine-preventable diseases can be serious for infants or young children, often resulting in medical visits and hospitalizations. For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that more than half of infants younger than 12 months of age who get pertussis must be hospitalized. Of those infants hospitalized with pertussis, 1 in 5 develop pneumonia, 1 in 100 have convulsions and 1 in 100 will die.
In 2011, Montana reported 134 cases of pertussis, including 10 cases among infants younger than 24 months of age.
“Vaccines are among the safest, most successful, and cost effective public health tools available for preventing disease and death,” states DPHHS Director, Anna Whiting Sorrell. “Vaccines not only help protect vaccinated individuals, but also help protect entire communities by preventing and reducing the spread of infectious diseases, and it’s easy for parents to do.”
“We encourage parents to talk with their child’s healthcare provider to be sure their child is up-to-date on immunizations,” emphasized Lisa Underwood, Manager of the State Immunization Program. She also noted, “Vaccines are often covered by health insurance. But if not, local health departments and programs such as the Vaccines for Children Program may be able to help.”
For more information about infant immunizations, contact your healthcare provider or local public health department.
Jon Ebelt, Public Information Officer, DPHHS, (406) 444-0936