National Infant Immunization Week,
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[APRIL 26, 2005]
As part of National
Infant Immunization Week, April 24-30, Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich
is sending a message to parents about the importance of protecting
their children against vaccine-preventable diseases.
"One of the most effective ways we can
protect our kids is through immunizations," Gov. Blagojevich said.
"Vaccines are the most successful and cost-effective public health
tools for preventing serious disease and death."
National Infant Immunization Week is an
annual observance that highlights the importance of timely
immunization for children age 2 and younger. This week helps remind
parents, health professionals and the public that children deserve a
healthy start by immunizing them against childhood diseases.
Each day, approximately 500 babies
are born in Illinois who should be immunized against 12 childhood
diseases before age 2. Vaccines are given at this early age
because the diseases they prevent are far more serious or common
among babies or young children.
Illinois has made great strides in
improving the vaccine rates in children in recent years. According
to the Center for Disease Control National Immunization Survey, 85
percent of Illinois children ages 19-35 months received their
vaccinations last year, a 3 percent improvement from two years ago.
"Much of this successful progress in
getting more infants and children protected against disease is a
result of an intense outreach program funded by the state," said Dr.
Eric E. Whitaker, state public health director. "A significant
number of infants and children among minority populations within the
city of Chicago were not getting their shots, and today 80 percent
of the infants and toddlers are immunized in that area."
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The Blagojeivch administration set
aside $375,000 of general revenue funds in fiscal 2005 specifically
for this intense immunization outreach program, called Keeping
Immunizations Current for Kids. The program is administered through
the Chicago Department of Public Health and includes partnerships
with the University of Chicago Hospital, community groups and health
care providers to improve the quality of immunization services
available and to educate the public about the importance of
childhood immunizations in protecting young children from serious
"This initiative has
been helpful in increasing the number of Chicago children getting
vaccinations before the age of 2," said Julie Morita, Chicago
Department of Public Health immunizations director. "Since 2000, we
have seen a 17 percent increase in coverage levels."
"Despite progress in this area
statewide, there are still 15 percent of infants not vaccinated, so
parents need to stay vigilant about getting their children
vaccinated against disease," Dr. Whitaker said. "I urge parents to
talk with their health care providers about their child’s
In Illinois, the Chicago Area
Immunization Campaign is hosting several events during
National Infant Immunization Week. A media
kickoff event was at Swedish Covenant Hospital in Chicago on Monday.
[News release from the governor's