Protecting Children and Infants

HDNW invites all to make a difference during National Infant Immunization Week.

National Infant Immunization Week is more than a health observance. It’s a priority. With measles – once eliminated in the United States by vaccination – making a comeback, the Health Department of Northwest Michigan (HDNW) and Northern Michigan Public Health Alliance urges residents to get their children vaccinated.

Childhood Immunization

On average, nearly one in five unvaccinated people in the United States who get measles need to be hospitalized, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions. In a recent outbreak in Ohio, more than 40% of infants and children infected with measles were hospitalized.

“Giving children and infants the recommended vaccines is the best way to protect them from serious childhood diseases like measles and whooping cough, also known as pertussis,” says Dan Thorell, HDNW Health Officer. “A moment of discomfort ends up providing prolonged protection for children and our communities from infectious diseases.”

National Infant Immunization Week, which runs from April 22-29, highlights the importance of protecting children two years and younger from vaccine-preventable diseases. Routine vaccinations protect again these 14 diseases:

  • Polio
  • Tetanus
  • Flu
  • Hepatitis A and B
  • Measles, Mumps and Rubella (one vaccine)
  • Hib
  • Whopping Cough
  • Pneumococcal
  • Rotavirus
  • Chickenpox
  • Diphtheria

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), childhood vaccination is important because it helps provide immunity before babies and children are exposed to potentially life-threatening diseases. Many infants and kids are behind on routine vaccinations, which puts them and others at risk

“Infants and children have developing immune systems that can fight off germs they encounter daily through food, air, or on objects,” says Joshua Meyerson, HDNW Medical Director. “However, some diseases require a more robust immune response to prevent severe illness, making childhood vaccination highly effective because it is scheduled for when the child’s immune system learns the most from the vaccine.”

For an easy reference on infant and child immunizations and when they should be given, see https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents/diseases/forgot-14-diseases.html. If you are unsure of whether your child has missed any shots, please reach out to your primary care provider or HDNW at 800-432-4121. HDNW uses a variety of programs and bills most insurances to offer free vaccines to families. No one will be turned away due to the inability to pay.