By Jennifer Holden, RN, BSN, immunizations program nurse manger, Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton
National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW) is April 18–25, 2015. At Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton, we encourage everyone to make sure your youngest family members are up-to-date on all vaccinations. Giving infants the recommended immunizations by age two is the best way to protect them from 14 serious childhood diseases. It is important to know what shots are needed and when to get them in order to prevent illnesses like flu, measles and pertussis (whooping cough). Ensuring that the youngest members of our community are immunized is a shared responsibility. Families, healthcare professionals, and public health officials need to work together to protect our entire community.
When the NIIW observance was established in 1994, immunization programs were facing significant challenges. The nation was in the midst of a serious measles outbreak and communities across the U.S. were seeing decreasing immunization rates among children. The nation is facing similar challenges once again. In 2014, 644 people across the U.S. were reported as having measles. This is the largest number of cases in the U.S. since measles was eliminated in 2000. During this week of observance, it is important to remember that vaccines are among the most successful and cost-effective public health tools available for preventing disease and death. Vaccine-preventable diseases still circulate in the U. S. and around the world, so continued vaccination is necessary to protect everyone from potential outbreaks. Even when diseases are rare in the U.S., they can be brought into the country by un-vaccinated travelers, putting un-vaccinated children at risk.
For more information about immunizations, contact your child’s Medical Home Port team via RelayHealth, reach out to your hospital’s immunization clinic, or visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/default.htm.