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National Infant Immunization Week,
April 24-30      
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[APRIL 26, 2005]  SPRINGFIELD -- 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 diseases.

"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 immunization schedule."

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 office]


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