Will County Urges Immunization Against Vaccine-Preventable Childhood Diseases

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Infant Immunization

Will County Health Department reminds area parents that infant immunizations help by providing lasting protection against dangerous childhood diseases.

We are fortunate to live in an era marked by just a few visible reminders of the suffering caused by polio, whooping cough and a dozen other infectious diseases which once claimed thousands of lives annually. Few of us have firsthand experience with diseases that were commonplace 50 years ago.

The mumps, measles, diphtheria and chicken pox caused untold suffering during the first half of the 20th century, but modern vaccines changed all that. We now have safe and effective vaccines against 14 childhood diseases, including rubella (a leading cause of birth defects), tetanus, common forms of hepatitis and Haemophilus influenzae. Available vaccine resources can protect every child in America, if parents are willing to make sure young ones get the immunizations that can help them live healthier lives.

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"Infants and young children are particularly vulnerable to infectious diseases," according to Will County Health Department executive director James Zelko. "That is why it's extremely important that they receive protection against vaccine-preventable diseases by their second birthday. Vaccines are among the most successful and costeffective public health tools available for preventing disease and death. Vaccines help protect all of us by preventing and reducing the spread of dangerous infectious agents."

American women give birth to more than 11,000 babies each day. If they could all be fully immunized by age two, we would save millions of healthcare dollars and help prevent a wide range of potentially debilitating illnesses. Parents need to take responsibility for their child's immunizations. The Health Department urges parents to become informed consumers, and to keep accurate records of each immunization visit.

Physicians should be prepared to talk to parents about the importance of childhood immunizations, and answer any lingering questions about vaccine risks.

The Health Department provides all childhood vaccines required for school, in addition to recommended vaccines for infants and adolescents. Walk-in immunizations are available through the Will County Community Health Center (1106 Neal Avenue in Joliet). Immunizations are given by appointment at clinic locations in Bolingbrook, Wilmington and University Park.

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