Among children born between 1994-2013, vaccination will prevent an estimated 322 million illnesses, 21 million hospitalizations, and 732,000 deaths over the course of their lifetimes. Vaccines are among the most successful and cost-effective public health tools available for preventing disease and death. They not only help protect vaccinated individuals, but also help protect entire communities by preventing and reducing the spread of infectious diseases.
April 18-25 is National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW). This is an annual observance to promote the benefits of immunizations and to improve the health of children two years old or younger. Since 1994, local and state health departments, national immunization partners, healthcare professionals, community leaders from across the United States, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have worked together through NIIW to highlight the positive impact of vaccination on the lives of infants and children, and to call attention to immunization achievements.
What you need to know:
• Immunizations save lives. Through immunization, we can now protect infants and children from 14 vaccine-preventable diseases before age two, including whooping cough (pertussis) and measles.
• Vaccination is very safe and effective. Vaccines are only given to children after a long and careful review by scientists, doctors, and healthcare professionals. Serious side effects following vaccination, such as severe allergic reaction, are very rare. And another study has just recently reaffirmed that there is no harmful association between children receiving the MMR vaccine and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) even among children already at higher risk for ASD.
• Babies and children in the U.S. still get vaccine preventable diseases. Why? Newborns are too young to receive vaccines and other people may not be able to get certain vaccinations due to severe allergies, weakened immune systems from conditions like leukemia, or other reasons. Vaccination helps keep everyone safe by reducing the spread of disease.
Vaccines are usually covered by insurance. But if you or someone you know is unable to afford vaccines for their child, the Vaccines for Children program is available. This is a federally funded program that provides vaccines for children whose parents may not be able to afford them. You can learn more about the VFC program here, or ask your child’s health care provider.
In the first 2 years of life, your baby gets several vaccines to protect her. This schedule shows each vaccine your baby gets up to 6 years.
And if you are pregnant, or thinking about becoming pregnant, you can learn more about vaccines and pregnancy here.
Have questions? Email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.