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FOR RELEASE: April 14, 2003
Assistant Surgeon General Walt Orenstein, M.D. Kicks Off National Infant Immunization Week in OKC
Assistant Surgeon General Walt Orenstein, M.D., Director, National Immunization Program, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), kicked off National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW) at a day care center in Oklahoma City today by urging parents and physicians to improve childhood immunization rates by increasing the number of infants receiving their 4th dose of DTaP vaccine by their second birthday. In addition, Dr. Orenstein asked more hospitals and physicians to administer the hepatitis B birth dose and file standing doctors orders with hospitals to give the hepatitis B birth dose, as an effort to help improve the health of Oklahoma’s infants.
The State of Oklahoma and City of Los Angeles are the only two sites being highlighted nationally during NIIW. Today, the Oklahoma City kick-off program will be at St. Luke’s Methodist Church Child Development Center. Tomorrow, Dr. Orenstein will unveil a new national poster, “Protect the Circle of Life; Immunize Our Nations.” The poster is designed for Native American and Alaska Native populations and reflects the importance of infant immunization as well as the importance of vaccinations occurring throughout the life span. Dr. Orenstein will officially roll out the poster in Talihina at a 9:30 a.m. ceremony tomorrow at the Choctaw Nation Health Center.
“As parents, we want basic things for our children. We want them to grow up knowing that they are loved and we want to provide them with opportunities to reach their full life potential. As part of that, we want them to be healthy and happy. Vaccinations are one way that parents can protect their child’s health and in turn protect the health of the community,” Dr. Orenstein said.
“The Oklahoma theme, I’m Prized, I’m Immunized, places emphasis on the love and protection parents can give to their children when they take the time to follow up on immunization records. A decision to vaccinate a child not only protects the individual, but also the community, by reducing the spread of disease to those who have not been vaccinated either by choice or due to a medical reason, such as children with leukemia,” Dr. Orenstein said.
“I want to encourage Oklahoma health care workers to continue building partnerships and coalitions with government to promote childhood vaccination. Day care centers and elementary school staff as well as hospitals and physicians all play a part in improving the health of a community and a state,” Dr. Orenstein said. “While I am in Oklahoma, I will share information about procedures and plans for physicians to make a difference in meeting our goal to fully immunize all children against vaccine preventable diseases.”
The health department has set the following goals to increase immunization rates in Oklahoma:
“Oklahoma currently ranks 32nd in the nation in fully protected infants. We plan to continue the efforts to improve our record and move into the top rankings over the next few years,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. Leslie Beitsch.
The following includes more information about the vaccine-preventable diseases that are receiving attention during National Infant Immunization Week:
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
Tuesday, April 15, Talihina, Poteau and Tulsa
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