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Media Statement

For Immediate Release: April 22, 2011
Contact: CDC Online Newsroom
(404) 639-3286

Assistant Surgeon General Trumpets NIIW as Opportunity to Ensure that All Babies and Young Children are Immunized On Time

As National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW) 2011 kicks off Saturday (April 23), Dr. Anne Schuchat, assistant surgeon general and director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, is reminding all parents to make certain their children are up-to-date on their vaccinations.

"Infant immunizations have had an enormous impact on improving children's health over the past century," says Dr. Schuchat, "Vaccine-preventable diseases can be serious—even deadly—especially for infants and young children. Fortunately, most parents today have never seen first-hand the devastating consequences that vaccine-preventable diseases have on a family or community. Today, immunization rates are at or near record highs and routine childhood immunizations save 42,000 lives, prevent 20 million cases of disease and save 13.6 billion dollars in medical costs for each birth cohort.

While vaccine-preventable diseases are not common in the U.S., they persist around the world, so it is important that we continue to protect our children with vaccines. Outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases can and do occur in this country. Last year in the U.S., there were more than 22,000 cases of whooping cough, and 26 deaths were reported – 22 of these deaths were in children younger than 1 year old. Outbreaks of measles are at record levels in Europe and the US is experiencing a record number of imported cases this year, raising the threat of spread in our own communities.

These outbreaks serve as important reminders to ensure that all children are fully immunized on time according to the recommended immunization schedule. "Not receiving all doses of a vaccine leaves your child vulnerable to serious diseases like measles and whooping cough," says Schuchat and she "encourages parents, to give their children the best possible protection from 14 serious childhood diseases by making sure they get all of their recommended immunizations."


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