April 20-27 is Infant Immunization Week

OSWEGO, NY – April 20-27 is National Infant Immunization Week.

This annual observance aims to improve the health of children two years old and younger by reminding parents to immunize them against vaccine-preventable childhood diseases.

“Before age two, all infants can and should be vaccinated against 14 preventable childhood diseases like whooping cough and measles,” said Jiancheng Huang, Director of Public Health for Oswego County.

Each year, thousands of children become ill from diseases that could have been prevented by basic childhood immunizations. Countless more miss time from day care and school because they are under-immunized or inappropriately immunized.

“The Oswego County Health Department staff strives to improve infant immunization rates for preventable diseases,” said Huang. “Over the past two years the immunization coverage rate for 2-year-olds has improved to 58 percent, well above the state average of 44 percent. The birth dose of hepatitis B vaccine reached 94 percent last year.”

“Vaccines are among the most successful and cost effective public health tools available for preventing disease and death,” emphasized Judy Lester, supervising public health nurse for the County Health Department. “Although we are at 58 percent and above the state average for two-year-olds, we still have work to do. Our ultimate goal is to have 100 percent of all our two-year-old children immunized against infectious diseases. We encourage all parents to have their children immunized at a county immunization clinic or by their pediatrician.”

Huang said it is important to remember that vaccines not only help protect vaccinated individuals, but also help protect entire communities by preventing and reducing the spread of infectious diseases.

In 2012, New York State and the United States experienced the largest pertussis, or whooping cough, outbreak of the last 50 years.

“This occurrence reminds us how important it is for all Oswego County residents to be properly immunized with vaccines containing pertussis,” said Huang.

Walk-in immunization clinics are held every Tuesday from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. at the Nick Sterio Public Health Center, 70 Bunner St., Oswego, and from 9 to 11 a.m. the third Tuesday of every month at the H. Douglas Barclay Courthouse, Pulaski.

To find out what vaccines your child needs and when, ask your healthcare provider, visit the New York State Department of Health website at http://www.health.ny.gov/publications/2378.pdf or call the Oswego County Health Department at 349-3547.