Why Immunizing Children Matters

“Vaccines are one of the Top 10 health-related 20th-century accomplishments in the U.S. because of the vast number of infant lives saved,” notes Judy Martin, chief of nursing with the Shelby County Health Department.

That's an important fact to remember as we recognize National Infant Immunization Week. 

Immunizations today protect infants and children from 14 vaccine-preventable diseases. Routine childhood immunization not only prevents disease and death but also is a cost-effective health intervention, saving our nation about $13.6 billion.

Martin points out that each year the Tennessee Immunization Program conducts a survey of 24-month-olds to keep track of the number of children immunized by their second birthday. The state's goal is to reach a 90 percent immunization rate. The results are communicated to increase immunization rates as an intentional approach to improving child health. Read the results here.

Another survey, the Overdue DTaP Report, is received throughout the year and identifies children delinquent for the fourth DTaP vaccine. Results indicate that completing the DTaP and pneumococcal four-dose series continues to be the primary barrier in Tennessee in achieving the Healthy People 2020 goal. Martin insists that every dose is important, so parents must make sure children receive all of the vaccine to provide optimal protection. Immunity is built in phases, with each dose boosting it to a protective level.

Vaccines for Children is a federally funded program established in 1994 to provide vaccines at no cost to children through age 18 who are eligible for Medicaid or uninsured. Martin adds that this program’s objective is to reduce or eliminate vaccine cost as a barrier to childhood immunization.

“This year, Shelby County Health Department will resurrect the Immunization Coalition,” concludes Martin. “This community coalition will serve as a formal forum for Shelby County stakeholders to learn, share, partner, and work together to improve Shelby County immunization rates.”

For more, go to cdc.gov or call (800) CDC-INFO.


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