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(Denison, IA) – National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW) is April 21-28, 2018. National Infant Immunization Week is an annual event to highlight the importance of protecting infants from vaccine-preventable diseases and celebrate the achievements of immunization programs and their partners in promoting healthy communities.

Dr. Elizabeth Brandt, pediatrician at Crawford County Memorial Hospital, noted the importance of vaccinating children.

“Through immunization, we can now protect infants and children from 14 vaccine-preventable diseases before age two. In the 1950’s, nearly every child developed measles, and unfortunately, some even died from this serious disease. It’s easy to think of these as diseases of the past but the truth is these diseases still exist in the United States. Keep in mind, when children are vaccinated, not only are those children being protected, but others are protected as well because of the development of immunity to disease.”

Dr. Brandt also said that several diseases have been eradicated, or are close to eradication, due to concerted vaccination efforts around the world.

“For example, both small pox and polio are considered to have been eradicated. In other words, these diseases no longer exist. Vaccinations are also underway in Africa to eliminate the Guinea worm. What this means for parents of infants is the opportunity for their children to grow up in a world where the fear of these diseases is virtually unknown. Vaccines have drastically reduced infant death and disability caused by preventable diseases in the United States,” Dr. Brandt commented.

Along with immunizations, Dr. Brandt also provides other healthcare services for children from birth to 18 years of age.

“I see children for preventative health visits to discuss development, growth and other needs. Most importantly, I work with children and parents on developmental screenings for speech, language, and cognitive development, gross and fine motor skills, and social and emotional development.”

Since 1994, hundreds of communities across the United States have joined together to celebrate the critical role vaccination plays in protecting children, communities, and public health.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has reported routine childhood immunization in one birth group prevents an estimated 381 million illnesses, 24.5 million hospitalizations, and 855,000 early deaths over the course of their lifetimes, at a net savings of $360 billion in direct costs and $1.65 trillion in total societal costs.

The National Immunization Survey has consistently shown that childhood immunization rates for vaccines routinely recommended for children remain at or near record levels.