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Press Release

For Immediate Release

April 11, 2003
Contact: CDC/NIP press office

National Infant Immunization Week Urges
Parents to Vaccinate

1 Million U.S. Children Not Fully Immunized

(Los Angeles, CA) -- The U. S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Immunization Coalition of Los Angeles County (ICLAC) will kick off National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW), April 13 - April 19, at 10 a.m. today, Friday, April 11, at California Family Care Medical Group (CFCMG) in Los Angeles.

NIIW is an annual observance that emphasizes the need to fully immunize children age 2 and younger against 11 vaccine-preventable diseases. Each day 11,000 babies are born who will need to be immunized against 11 diseases before age 2. Despite recent gains in childhood immunization coverage, more than 20 percent of the nation’s 2-year-olds are still missing one or more of the recommended immunizations.

“Immunizations are one of the most important ways parents can protect their children against serious diseases,” said Dr. Walter Orenstein, assistant surgeon general, and director of CDC’s National Immunization Program. “Although immunization coverage among children in the United States is the highest ever recorded for most vaccines, one million of our nation’s children are still not fully immunized,” said Orenstein.

Vaccines are among the 20th Century’s most successful and cost-effective public health tools available for preventing disease and death. High immunization coverage levels translate into record or near-record low levels of vaccine-preventable diseases.

“While immunization coverage among children in the United States is at or near record levels for most vaccines, unfortunately, not all Americans are benefiting equally from medical advances and disease prevention,” said Dr. Cristina Beato, principal deputy assistant secretary for Health at the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. “The nation’s health status will never be as good as it can be as long as we have racial disparities in our health care system.”

The immunization coverage rate gap between Latinos and Caucasians has closed significantly since 1995, when the coverage rate for Hispanic children was 68 percent compared to 76 percent for White children. Nationally, just 77 percent of Hispanic children aged 19-35 months of age have received the recommended 4 doses of DTaP, 3 doses of polio, 1 dose of measles-containing vaccine, and 3 doses of Hib vaccine. This compares to nearly 79 percent for White children. Although vaccination rates for Latino children have increased, pockets of need still exist in Los Angeles and in other parts of the country and among transient populations .

African-American immunization rates remain low compared to national statistics. Nationally, only 71 percent of African American children have received all of their recommended vaccines.

To support NIIW, The U. S. Department of Health and Human Services and CDC will unveil a new childhood immunization campaign at the event. The campaign, La Promesa (The Promise), asks parents to Prometa vacunarlos (Promise to vaccinate), a Spanish-language 30-second PSA, and It All Adds Up, Vaccinate!, an English-language 30-second PSA. Both stress the importance of vaccinating children in the first 24 months of life to protect them against vaccine-preventable diseases. Additional campaign components include: A full-color, bilingual Libretas de vacunación (Immunization booklet), print ads, and a travel exhibit for Hispanic community events and health fairs, and poster. The PSAs provide parents with visual and audio cues to reinforce the childhood recommended vaccination schedule: at birth, 2, 4, 6, 12 and 15 months.

California Hospital Medical Center will offer free immunization clinics for children two and younger from April 11-May 30, 2003 at the following hospital clinics:

    California Family Care Medical Group
    Foshay Learning Center Clinic
    Primeros Pasitos Clinic
    Clinica Para Las Mujeres (VernBro)
    California Family Medical Clinic

For more information, call 1-800-364-2057 ext 34. To order immunization booklets or download the poster, go to For more information please visit or call 1-800-232-0233 (Spanish) or 1-800-232-2522 (English).

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This page last updated April 11, 2003

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