National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW) is a yearly observance highlighting the importance of protecting children two years and younger from vaccine-preventable diseases (VPDs). It’s also a time to showcase the achievements of immunization programs and their partners in promoting healthy communities.
For over 25 years, hundreds of communities across the U.S. have joined forces to highlight the critical role vaccination plays in protecting our children, communities, and the nation’s public health.
NIIW is April 25-May 2, 2020, as part of World Immunization Week (WIW)external iconexternal icon, a World Health Organization (WHO) initiative. During WIW, all six WHO regions, including more than 180 member states, territories, and areas promote immunization, advance equity and universal access to vaccination, and enable cooperation on cross-border immunization.
These major achievements highlight controlling vaccine-preventable diseases among infants and young children worldwide:
- Vaccines have drastically reduced infant deaths and disability caused by preventable disease in the U.S.
- Through immunization, we can now protect infants and children from 14 vaccine-preventable diseases before age two.
- Routine childhood immunization among children born from 1994-2018 will prevent:
- an estimated 419 million illnesses,
- 8 million hospitalizations, and
- 936,000 early deaths over the course of their lifetimes.
This is for a net savings of $406 billion in direct costs and $1.9 trillion in total economic impact.
Child vaccination coverage remains high in the U.S., but misinformation can put communities at risk. When misleading information spreads, vaccination coverage can fall and increase the risk for outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases.
For example, from January 1 to December 31, 2019, over 1,200 individual cases of measles were confirmed in 31 states. This is the greatest number of measles cases reported in the U.S. since 1992.
NIIW provides an opportunity to:
- Highlight the dangers of vaccine-preventable diseases, especially to infants and young children.
- Educate parents and caregivers about the importance and benefits of vaccination in protecting their children, starting from birth, against vaccine-preventable diseases.
- Encourage better communication about vaccination and recommendation between parents and healthcare professionals.
NIIW also provides an opportunity to:
- Let local organizations and agencies work together as immunization partners.
- Recognize local partners and volunteers for improving immunization coverage, with emphasis on completing the vaccination series.
- Create events that attract community support and national and local media interest for stories on childhood immunization.
- Provide a forum so local media can interview immunization experts.