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FOR RELEASE: April 8, 2003
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
405/271-5601

“I’m Prized I’m Immunized”
Theme for 2003 National Infant Immunization Week

During National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW), April 13 - 19, Assistant U.S. Surgeon General Walt Orenstein, M.D., Director, National Immunization Program, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), will visit Oklahoma to call attention to the importance of childhood vaccinations due by age 2.

He will kick off the weeklong campaign at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church Child Development Center, 222 NW 15th Street, Oklahoma City, at 1:45 p.m., Monday, April 14. Dr. Orenstein will emphasize the importance of childhood vaccinations due by age 2, and the need to improve childhood immunization rates. Oklahoma’s theme for National Infant Immunization Week this year is “I’m Prized, I’m Immunized,” which emphasizes the need to protect children from vaccine-preventable diseases.

Oklahoma has been chosen along with Los Angeles, Calif., to be one of two sites in the country featured nationally this year to promote and help raise infant immunization rates. One in four Oklahoma children under 2 years of age is not fully protected against vaccine-preventable diseases.

“It will take a sustained public education effort to reach parents and caregivers to follow up on the childhood immunization schedule,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. Leslie Beitsch. “I am very pleased that Dr. Orenstein is able come here to highlight this effort to improve the health of our children,” Beitsch said.

Dr. Orenstein is the Director of the National Immunization Program, CDC, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. A graduate of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, he trained in pediatrics and pediatric infectious diseases. Orenstein has spent more than 25 years at the CDC working in immunization and was named an Assistant Surgeon General of the Public Health Service in 1995.

State health officials believe Oklahoma’s immunization rates for children under age 2 could improve remarkably if: (1) more hospitals gave the hepatitis B vaccine birth dose shots; (2) there was an increase in the number of standing physicians’ orders in hospitals to give the hepatitis B vaccine birth dose; and (3) more children received their 4th DTaP (diphtheria/tetanus/acellular pertussis) vaccination by their second birthday.

Hepatitis B is a serious infection of the liver that is caused by the hepatitis B virus. It is spread by direct contact with the blood or body fluids of an infected person. Many infected persons have no symptoms while others may experience loss of appetite; tiredness; pain in muscles, joints, or stomach; diarrhea or vomiting; or jaundice.

Diphtheria, Tetanus, and acellular Pertussis (DTaP) vaccine is used to reduce the incidence of those diseases. Diphtheria is a very serious disease that can cause fever and weakness and make it difficult to breathe. It can attack the kidneys and nervous system and cause heart failure and paralysis. Transmission is usually from person-to-person through the respiratory tract. Tetanus is caused by a toxin-releasing bacterium, Clostridium tetani, which lives in the soil and enters through the skin. It can cause muscles to become rigid and have spasms and causes “lockjaw”. Pertussis, or whooping cough, is highly contagious and deadly. It causes severe coughing spells that have a whooping sound making it difficult to eat, drink or breathe.

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. A parent or legal guardian must accompany children receiving immunizations, and show the child’s immunization record.

While in Oklahoma, Dr. Orenstein will visit the following locations:

Monday, April 14, Oklahoma City

9:30 a.m. - Britton Elementary School, 1215 NW 95th; featuring children’s assembly and awards ceremony for immunization achievements.

12:00 p.m. - Grand Rounds at OU College of Public Health, 801 NE 13th in Room 150; presentation for health care professionals and students on “Successes, Promises and Challenges.”

1:45 p.m. - MEDIA KICK-OFF - St. Luke’s United Methodist Church Child Development Center, 222 NW 15th; children’s program and short presentation to parents and day care staff about immunizations.

7:00 p.m. - Coles Garden, 1415 NE 63rd St., Oklahoma Immunization “Immy” Awards Dinner; presentation for physicians, nurses, child care centers, and immunization coalition members. (Media and invited guests only; not open to the general public.)

Tuesday, April 15, Talihina, Poteau and Tulsa

9:30 a.m. -Talihina, Choctaw Nation Health Care Center, One Choctaw Way; presentation about the need for more hospitals to give the birth dose of hepatitis B immunization and have standing doctor’s orders on file.

12:30 p.m. - Poteau, Carl Albert State College, 1507 South McKenna; presentation on infant immunizations, especially the hepatitis B birth dose and vaccine safety.

3:00 p.m. - Tulsa, East Regional Health Center, 5051 South 129th East Avenue; presentation and staff discussion on the importance of children being up-to-date on their vaccinations by age 2.

6:00 p.m. - Tulsa, Renaissance Hotel, 6808 South 107th East Avenue; dinner program with pediatricians, family practice physicians, Rotary Club members, and community partners to promote infant immunizations.

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