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National Infant Immunization Week: a reminder of the importance of vaccination for children

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Updated: 8/16/2013 3:48 pm

(BPT) - Immunizations have had an enormous impact in helping to improve the health of children in the United States, according the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While vaccination has helped to reduce many childhood diseases, some of these diseases still exist and could reappear if vaccination coverage wanes.

National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW), held this year April 20-27, serves as a great reminder to parents and caregivers that vaccines can help protect children from 14 childhood diseases by age two. NIIW is an annual observance supported by the CDC to highlight the importance of vaccination in helping to protect infants from certain diseases and to celebrate the achievements of immunization programs in helping to promote healthy communities.

'Incidence of many serious childhood infections has greatly declined because of the widespread use of childhood vaccinations,' said Dr. Patricia Samuelson, a family physician based in Sacramento. 'However, if vaccination rates drop, disease rates could rise again, so it's important that we are diligent in vaccinating to help protect children.'

Parents should know that it's recommended to vaccinate their children at certain ages and with the appropriate number of doses. Maintaining the schedule of a child's well visits helps ensure children get the vaccines they need, at the right times.

NIIW can also be a reminder that vaccines are recommended not only for children, but for people across a lifetime. While parents are naturally concerned about the health and safety of their children, it is important to remember that vaccination is important in helping to maintain health and wellness for people of all ages. In fact, the CDC has recommended immunization schedules for children and adolescents, as well as adults.

Dr. Samuelson recommends talking to a health care professional or visiting sponsor.WebMD.com/VACCINES to learn more about what vaccines are recommended for people of all ages. The website provides information developed by Merck on WebMD about the history of vaccines and how they are developed, approved and manufactured. It also offers a resource that can be used when talking to your health care professional.

'By staying informed and learning about recommended vaccines, people can learn how to help protect themselves and their loved ones from certain infectious diseases.'

NIIW is also part of a global effort to raise awareness about vaccinations, celebrated as part of the World Immunization Week, April 21-28, an initiative of the World Health Organization (WHO). To learn more, visit www.cdc.gov/vaccines.

This information is provided by Merck.

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