Minnesota Joins National Infant Immunization Week

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture
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Haemophilus influenzae B (Hib), measles, rubella, chicken pox, polio, pertussis and plain old influenza. All are diseases that have occurred in Minnesota in the last year. All are diseases that can pose serious health risks for infants and young children. All can be prevented with vaccines.

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), along with other state and national public health partners, will observe National Infant Immunization Week April 25-May 2 by calling attention to the importance of protecting infants from these preventable diseases.

"While some childhood diseases like Hib or measles are not often seen in Minnesota, their occurrence serves to remind us that these diseases are still out there," said Kristen Ehresmann, director of MDH's Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Prevention and Control Division. "It's still important for parents to follow standard recommendations, and make sure their children are properly immunized."

In order to give infants the best protection, it's important for parents to vaccinate their infants on time, according to a schedule that has been designed and recommended by national medical and immunization experts.

It's also important for those who are around infants to be vaccinated. This may include parents, siblings or caregivers. People who are not vaccinated can pass diseases on to vulnerable infants. This is especially true with certain diseases such as influenza, for which infants under six months of age cannot be vaccinated or pertussis, which takes three doses of vaccine before it protects against the disease that can be dangerous in young babies.

"When the people around your infant are vaccinated, you are creating a cocoon of protection," Ehresmann said.

During this week, MDH and its public health partners are asking parents to:

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* Remember to keep an immunization record for each child and update it after every doctor visit.

* Ask your doctor at each visit whether your child needs any immunizations.

* Check your own immunization status with your health care provider and get vaccinated if necessary.

Also during this week, MDH and its public health partners are asking health care providers to consider doing any or all of the following:

* Promote immunization in prenatal classes and during prenatal visits.

* Provide after-hours and weekend immunization services to reduce wait times and eliminate access barriers.

* Implement an immunization reminder system.

* Create and maintain a patient-friendly environment and provide culturally appropriate immunization education materials.

The theme for National Infant Immunization Week is "Love them, Protect them, Immunize them," and it is being held in conjunction with Vaccination Week in the Americas.

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