Each year, during National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW), communities across the United States work to highlight the importance of protecting infants from vaccine-preventable diseases and to celebrate the achievements of immunization programs in promoting healthy communities throughout the United States. This year, the 20th anniversary of the event, NIIW is being held April 26 – May 3.
When the NIIW observance was established in 1994, immunization programs were facing significant challenges. The nation was in the midst of a serious measles outbreak and communities across the U.S. were seeing decreasing immunization rates among children. The measles cases were disproportionately affecting poor children. In response, the Vaccines for Children Program (VFC) was created to allow CDC to buy vaccines at a discount and distribute them to doctors and clinics participating in the program. VFC continues to provide vaccines at no cost to children who are not insured or under-insured, and this year, the program will also celebrate its 20th anniversary. The VFC program has contributed directly to a substantial increase in childhood immunization coverage levels and has made a significant contribution to the elimination of disparities in vaccination coverage among young children.
Although NIIW began 20 years ago as a way to draw attention to these issues and to focus energy on solutions, communities still continue to use the week each year to raise awareness about the importance of ensuring all children are fully protected from vaccine preventable diseases through immunization.
NIIW is great opportunity to remind parents that vaccines offer their children safe, proven protection against serious diseases. CDC has resources available to help you spread the word:
- Print or order a poster about vaccines from the CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/events/niiw/print-materials.html
- Post a video from CDC on your website: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/events/niiw/web-etools.html?tab=2#TabbedPanels1
- Feature an web button on your website linking CDC’s parent website: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/events/niiw/web-etools.html?tab=0#parents
- Print and distribute resources from CDC’s Provider Resources for Vaccine Conversations with Parents: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/conversations
Most of the resources listed above can be used year round to help keep vaccination rates high. Because immunization is a shared responsibility, families, healthcare professionals, and public health officials must work together to help protect the entire community.