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The U. S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), will launch the second decade of National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW) with events beginning April 24 and continuing through April 30, 2005. Immunization has been cited as one of the 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century.
For the second year, the CDC will partner with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the United States-Mexico Border Health Commission (USMBHC) and more than 35 other nations for Vaccination Week in the Americas (VWA) in order to reach out to parents, caregivers, healthcare providers, and communities throughout the Western Hemisphere to highlight the need for routine infant vaccinations.
We can now protect children from more vaccine preventable diseases than ever before, said Dr. Stephen L. Cochi, acting director of the National Immunization Program for CDC. Millions of children have been vaccinated, and millions of cases of disease, disability and death have been prevented.
Recently, several important milestones have been reached in controlling vaccine-preventable diseases among infants and adults worldwide:
-- July 2004: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced that the nation's childhood immunization rates are at record high levels. [www.hhs.gov/news/press/2004pres/20040729.html]
-- March 2005: CDC announced that rubella is no longer a major health threat to expectant mothers and their unborn children, thanks to a safe and effective vaccine, high vaccine coverage, and parents confidence in the vaccination recommendation. [www.cdc.gov/od/oc/media/pressrel/r050321.htm]
-- April 2005: marks the 50th anniversary of the introduction of the polio vaccine. Safe, effective, and potent. On April 12, 1955, Dr. Thomas Francis Jr., director of the Poliomyelitis Vaccine Evaluation Center at the University of Michigan, School of Public Health, announced to the world that the Salk polio vaccine was up to 90 percent effective in preventing paralytic polio.
Every day, 11,000 babies are born in the United States who will need to be immunized against 12 diseases before age two. Despite recent gains in infant immunization coverage, more than 20 percent of the nations 2-year-olds do not get 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 Cochi. "The suffering or death of even one individual 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."
More than 500 NIIW events across the United States to promote and provide infant vaccinations will reflect this years NIIW theme Love them. Protect them. Immunize them.