The Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County urges all parents to protect their children's health with all recommended immunizations from birth and through their teens.
April 26 to May 3 is National Infant Immunization Week, a time to remember the importance of a regular immunization schedule for babies.
National Infant Immunization Week, now in its 20th year, is an annual observance to highlight the importance of protecting infants from vaccine-preventable diseases and celebrate the achievements of immunization programs and their partners in promoting healthy communities.
Since 1994, hundreds of communities across the United States have joined together to celebrate the critical role vaccination plays in protecting our children, communities and public health.
Several important milestones already have been reached in controlling vaccine-preventable diseases among infants worldwide. Vaccines have drastically reduced infant death and disability caused by preventable diseases in our nation. Here are some health milestones:
• Through immunization, we can now protect infants and children from 14 vaccine-preventable diseases before age two.
• In the 1950s, nearly every child developed measles, and unfortunately, some even died from this serious disease. Today, few physicians just out of medical school will ever see a case of measles during their careers.
• Routine childhood immunization in one birth cohort prevents about 20 million cases of disease and about 42,000 deaths. It also saves about $13.5 billion in direct costs.
• The National Immunization Survey has consistently shown that childhood immunization rates for vaccines routinely recommended for children remain at or near record levels.
It's easy to think of these as diseases of the past, and they have been since immunizations became common. One example of the seriousness of vaccine-preventable diseases is an increase in measles cases or outbreaks that were reported in 2013.
Data from 2013 showed a higher than normal number of measles cases nationally and in individual states, including an outbreak of 58 cases in New York City that was the largest reported outbreak of measles in the U.S. since 1996. There were no cases reported in Pinellas County in 2013.
Parents and their babies' health providers can work together to ensure that immunizations are administered on a regular schedule. DOH-Pinellas also provides vaccines for infants, children and teens at no cost through the federal Vaccines for Children program.