INDIANAPOLIS—Indiana helps to launch the 20th National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW). Indiana was selected as the launch state by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to call attention to the state’s immunization successes, as well as to the importance of remaining vigilant to ensure children are fully protected from 14 vaccine-preventable diseases by their second birthday. As part of the weeklong health observance, Anne Schuchat, M.D., Director of the CDC National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases and Assistant U.S. Surgeon General, will be touring the state speaking about the importance of vaccines.
"Protecting our infants is the top priority of the State Health Department,” said State Health Commissioner William VanNess, M.D. “By providing children with the recommended vaccines, countless Hoosier lives have been saved. This week serves as an important reminder that vaccines are necessary and lifesaving. We are honored that Indiana was selected by CDC to launch National Infant Immunization Week and excited to host Dr. Schuchat.”
NIIW was created in 1994 to highlight the importance of protecting infants from vaccine-preventable diseases and celebrate the achievements of immunization programs and their partners in promoting healthy communities. Governor Pence has declared April 26-May 3, 2014 as Indiana Infant Immunization Week. Reducing infant mortality, which is the death of a child before his or her first birthday, is the top health priority in the state.
Vaccine-preventable diseases still circulate in the United States and around the world, so continued vaccination is necessary to protect everyone from potential outbreaks. Even when diseases are rare in the U.S., they can be brought into the country, putting unvaccinated children at risk. Nationally, the U.S. is currently experiencing outbreaks of measles, and Indiana has also seen recent outbreaks of vaccine preventable diseases, including chicken pox, pertussis, and mumps.
“Many vaccine-preventable diseases are at an all-time low,” said Dr. Schuchat. “But American children still can—and do—get diseases such as measles and whooping cough. These diseases can be very serious, and even fatal, for young children.”
Parents and healthcare professionals play critical roles in ensuring that children receive the best protection from vaccine preventable diseases by making sure they receive all their vaccines on time according to CDC’s recommended immunization schedule.
The Indiana State Department of Health tracks childhood immunizations through the Children and Hoosier Immunization Registry Program (CHIRP). Now in its 11th year, CHIRP collects, forecasts, manages and shares vaccine data to registered medical providers in Indiana. Providers include: private medical facilities, local health departments, hospitals, schools, and pharmacies. The CHIRP program allows for providers and their designees to access immunization records.
Individuals can access their official immunization records at no cost by visiting www.MyVaxIndiana.in.gov. Records can viewed, printed, downloaded or faxed through the use of a personal identification number (PIN). PINs may be obtained from healthcare providers and local health departments upon request.
This year also marks the 20th anniversary of the Vaccines for Children program, a federally funded program that provides vaccinations at no cost to children whose parents cannot afford to pay for them. To locate a facility that offers immunizations through the Vaccines for Children’s program, call 1-800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636).
“As we celebrate the 20th anniversaries this week of National Infant Immunization Week and the Vaccines for Children program, we can feel proud that our nation’s immunization program has been hugely successful in protecting the health of our children and communities,” said Dr. Schuchat. “We are very grateful to the healthcare professionals who go above and beyond every day to keep people healthy and safe. But we cannot be complacent, and we need to take the threats from outbreaks of vaccine preventable diseases, such as measles, seriously.”
For more information about NIIW 2014, visit the CDC at http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/events/niiw/index.html.
To learn more about immunizations in Indiana or Indiana’s role in NIIW 2014, visit www.StateHealth.in.gov. For important health information and updates, follow us on Twitter at @StateHealthIN and on Facebook atwww.facebook.com/isdh1.