National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW) was established to raise the profile of the infant immunization program in the United States. Infant immunization protects people from vaccine-preventable diseases throughout their life. NIIW is also a time to appreciate and celebrate the achievements immunization programs have had in promoting good health. Supported by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the first National Infant Immunization Week took place in 1994.
While aspects of the campaign may differ each year, the message behind this week is always, ‘Love Them. Protect Them. Immunize Them, and parents are encouraged or reminded to have their children immunized by the age of 2. A course of vaccines offers protection against 14 diseases:
Hepatitis A: a contagious disease in which the liver is infected; caused by the Hepatitis A virus.
Hepatitis B: a disease of the liver caused by the Hep B virus. In some cases, Hep B remains in the liver for life and can lead to further complications including liver cancer.
Diphtheria: a potentially fatal condition in which the airways can become blocked, restricting breathing. Also associated with heart problems and paralysis of throat muscles needed for swallowing.
Hib Disease (Haemophilus influenzae type b): a serious disease which can cause meningitis and pneumonia.
Pertussis (whooping cough): key symptoms are persistent violent coughing and choking which can last for weeks.
Pneumococcal Disease: a potentially fatal bacterial infection which can cause pneumonia.
Polio: a viral infection with possible symptoms of fever, pain, sore throat, head ache and in some cases paralysis and death.
Influenza (flu): more commonly known as the flu, influenza can often cause severe symptoms in infants.
Measles: a very contagious disease caused by a virus whose symptoms include cough, fever and rash. In severe cases, measles can cause brain damage, pneumonia, seizures and can also be fatal.
Mumps: another contagious condition caused by a virus. Symptoms include headaches, fever, pain and swelling in the salivary glands.
Rotavirus: key symptoms are diarrhea and vomiting which usually last between 3 to 8 days. Other possible symptoms are abdominal pain and fever.
Rubella (German Measles): a virus with key symptoms of fever, rash and swollen glands which last for about 3 days. Severe complications can arise if a pregnant woman has rubella. A pregnant woman with rubella is at greater risk of miscarriage and her baby may have physical defects including loss of sight or hearing and heart problems.
Tetanus: also known as ‘lockjaw’, tetanus is a condition which affects the muscles, causing them to spasm. A person may experience headaches, an elevated body temperature and muscle pain. The jaw muscles may spasm causing the jaw to ‘lock’. Tetanus is caused by bacteria in the environment infecting the body through a cut or a wound. For example, tetanus could be caught by a rusty nail penetrating the skin or from soil coming into contact with a cut.
Varicella (Chickenpox): a highly contagious virus whose symptoms include rash and spots which appear on the face and body.
Consequences of Not Immunizing Infants: If infants are not immunized the consequences can be severe. Disease often brings economic and social costs, misspent time and resources visiting doctors, hospitalizations and poor child and educational development. These consequences are in addition to any of the direct physical symptoms and problems associated with a given condition. Also in some cases a disease can be fatal.
For more information about National Infant Immunization Week please visit the official NIIW website:
Shingletown Medical Center Board Members and Staff wish you a “Healthy” and “Happy” April!