CDC Initiative Highlights Importance of Vaccines for Infants and Children

April 07, 2016|3:46 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Efforts are continuously being made to further educate parents and communities on the importance and benefits of vaccines, as well as to increase uptake of recommended routine childhood vaccines. CDC’s National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW) campaign is one example of these efforts.

NIIW is a seven-day annual campaign in April that highlights the importance of protecting infants from preventable diseases. It recognizes state and local immunization programs and immunization champions’ achievements to further promote vaccines in their communities. This year, NIIW takes place April 16-23.

Continued Urgency

U.S. national estimated vaccination coverage for children 19-35 months varies from 94.7 percent to 71.6 percent depending on vaccine and number of doses received (2014). Only 0.8 percent of children did not receive any vaccinations in 2014. Despite great strides, however, the U.S. continues to experience vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks. In 2015, the United States experienced a multi-state outbreak of measles reportedly linked to a Disney theme park in California that affected both children and adults. Given the continued threat of vaccine preventable disease outbreaks, it remains important to promote infant immunizations.

To raise awareness on infant and children immunizations, the NIIW has created promotional materials and resources for planning infant immunization week events, as well as educational resources to help educate healthcare providers and the general public on the importance of vaccines. Examples of materials include NIIW print logos (in English and Spanish), key messages, sample social media advertisements and PSAs.

“Reaching all audiences with a clear and coordinated message, repeated across multiple channels, is critical to public health, because as we’ve seen, eradicating disease requires that every person in the population is protected,” said Lisa Waddell, chief program officer of community health and prevention at ASTHO. “CDC’s National Infant Immunization Week initiative, and others like it, enable us to send a coordinated and concentrated message to hopefully reach everyone in our communities—for the health and wellbeing of children and adults alike.”

Resources

NIIW has developed several resources and materials for both healthcare providers and the general public on infant and children immunizations. Tools such as easy to read schedules, well child visit trackers, fact sheets, and coloring sheets for families as well as immunization schedules, fact sheets on vaccine safety and monitoring, and talking points for healthcare providers allow for easy communication and discussions about the importance of vaccination and protecting children.   

Awards

NIIW recognizes state and local immunization programs and immunization champions’ achievements to further promote vaccines in their communities. The CDC Childhood Immunization Champion Awards are presented annually to local level individuals who have significantly contributed to improving childhood immunizations through their work. In 2015, there were 33 Childhood Immunization Champions awarded. Awards are given based on leadership, collaboration, innovation and advocacy showcased by the individual to further support immunizations in infants and children. These immunization champions have provided education and training to healthcare providers and staff, established workgroups and coalitions, as well as provided culturally relevant information to their communities on vaccinations and immunizations for infants and families.

For more information, please visit the National Infant Immunization Week website.