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For Release: April 28, 2009
Contact: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
405/271-5601

Protect Your Children From Diseases
National Infant Immunization Week This Week

In the first 24 months of life, children need about 80 percent of their vaccinations to protect them from diseases, disabilities, and death. Each year new and improved vaccines and ways to combine them are developed. During National Infant Immunization Week, which is being observed this week, the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) reminds parents and caregivers to vaccinate their children and keep their vaccination records up-to-date.

Oklahoma has improved its vaccination rate for infants and children up to age 2 and now ranks 15th in the nation for the percent of 2-year-old children current with their immunizations. Just a few years ago, Oklahoma was consistently ranked in the bottom 10 states.

“We are very proud of the parents, nurses, doctors, and public health workers who have contributed to this success,” said Interim Commissioner of Health Rocky McElvany. “But with more than 50,000 new babies born every year in Oklahoma, both parents and providers have to remain vigilant to follow up with appointments to health care providers to maintain those improvements and keep our children healthy.”

Families, health care providers, and public health officials must work together to ensure that all children are fully immunized by remembering that:

Vaccines are available for all children including those who do not have health insurance. Parents and caregivers can call toll-free, 800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636), to locate a facility that offers children’s immunizations, or call the county health department in your area.

Infants are particularly vulnerable to infectious diseases and need to be vaccinated on time at 2,4, 6 and 12 months of age to have the best protection.

Parents should keep an immunization record for their children, take it with them every time they take their child to the doctor or clinic, and ask their doctor or health care provider whether their child is up-to-date on his or her immunizations. Oklahoma day care centers require that children be current on nearly all recommended vaccines.

Health care providers should check the immunization status of all the children they see to remind parents of the importance of vaccination to staying healthy.

“Most parents know that children need vaccines before they start school, but many do not realize that babies are at risk from serious diseases, such as whooping cough, and need protection provided by vaccines starting at 2 months of age,” said McElvany.

In 2004, the OSDH began promoting a simplified childhood immunization schedule called “OK By One” which allows completion of the primary series in just four visits at 2, 4, 6, and 12 months of age. This schedule was recommended by the Oklahoma Immunization Advisory Committee and is accepted by state medical associations.

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. For more information or to view the “OK By One” vaccination schedule, visit: http://imm.health.ok.gov.

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