21% children not fully protected against vaccine-preventable diseases

The U. S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) launched National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW) last week.

Parents, caregivers and healthcare providers reminded during NIIW of the benefits of vaccination and the importance of routine childhood vaccination. One focus encouraged parents to become informed medical consumers by talking to their healthcare providers and asking them questions about vaccines.

“Immunization has been cited as one of the ten great public health achievements of the 20th century. We can now protect children from more vaccine-preventable diseases than ever before,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. “More than four million children are born each year in the U.S. and each one will need to be vaccinated. We prevent millions of cases of disease and thousands of deaths when we vaccinate them.”

There are now vaccines to protect children against 15 diseases before age two. Despite recent gains in infant immunization coverage, more than 20 percent of the nation’s two-year-olds are not fully immunized against infectious diseases to which they are especially vulnerable.

“A substantial number of children in the United States still aren’t adequately protected from vaccine-preventable diseases,” said Dr. Schuchat. “The suffering or death of even one child from a vaccine-preventable disease is an unnecessary human tragedy. Let us renew our efforts to ensure that no child, adolescent, or adult will have to needlessly suffer from a vaccine-preventable disease.”

The number of cases of most vaccine-preventable diseases and deaths is at an all time low. Vaccination programs in the United States have contributed to the elimination of many vaccine-preventable diseases and have greatly reduced the incidence of most other vaccine-preventable diseases.

“Infants are more vulnerable to many diseases than older children and adults,” said Dr. Schuchat. “Yet it’s important for adults to also be vaccinated to keep themselves healthy and to keep from spreading infections to vulnerable people, including children.

Although vaccines have drastically reduced vaccine-preventable diseases, they are still circulating in many parts of the world and the United States can see a return of these diseases if we don’t maintain high vaccine coverage levels. Diligent efforts are required to ensure our immunization programs remain strong to protect our children.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, USA

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