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FOR RELEASE: April 4, 2002
CONTACT: Dick Gunn
405/271-5601

“Immunize Every Child by Age 2”
Theme for 2002 National Infant Immunization Week

During National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW), April 14 - 20, public health officials are reminding parents to get their children immunized in a timely manner to help protect their health.

Seventy percent of children’s vaccinations are needed in their first two years of life to protect them from diseases, disabilities, and death. Now in its ninth year, NIIW focuses attention on the tremendous benefits of immunizations to the health of children.

Vaccines not only prevent a vaccinated individual from developing a potentially serious disease, but they also help protect the entire community by reducing the spread of infectious agents. Vaccines not only save lives, they save money. For every dollar spent on measles-mumps-rubella vaccine, about $13 is generated in savings. The individual and community protection provided by vaccines helps make immunization one of the most cost-effective public health strategies around.

“Too many Oklahoma children are not fully protected against diseases that are easily prevented,” said Don Blose, director of Immunization Services, Oklahoma State Department of Health, Disease and Prevention Services. Blose added, “Young children, especially, need these shots because their immune systems are not fully developed. Immunizations give their immune systems the needed boost.”

Health departments want to encourage community organizations to plan local National Infant Immunization Week activities such as health fairs, and help to publicize annual back-to-school- immunization projects in their towns. “Every community can play a role in protecting children from vaccine-preventable diseases,” Blose added. A parent or legal guardian must accompany children receiving immunizations, and the child’s immunization record must be presented.

For more information about the benefits of childhood immunizations, or to get your child immunized, check with your health care provider or county health department.

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