National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW) is observed each April to remind communities of the importance of immunizations in protecting those aged two and under from vaccine preventable diseases (VPDs). For over 25 years, NIIW has celebrated the work of immunization programs, healthcare providers, and partners in promoting and providing vaccines. This year, NIIW is observed April 25-May 2.
During this week, NACCHO recognizes the many efforts of local health departments, who work hard to keep infants and children healthy and free of VPDs. This year, NIIW’s theme is “Power to Protect”. We have the power to protect infants and children against 14 VPDs before they turn 2-years-old.
The CDC estimates that routine childhood immunizations will prevent 419 million illnesses and almost a million early deaths in children born between 1994 and 2018. Prevention of these illnesses equates to a net savings of $406 billion in direct costs.
Though childhood vaccination coverage is generally high in the US, LHDs continue to work to combat vaccine misinformation which can lead to lower pockets of vaccination, leaving communities susceptible. It is vital to continue to educate parents and healthcare providers on the safety and efficacy of vaccines as a life-saving, prevention mechanism.
Recognizing that the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect communities across the US and impact the way in which we access routine medical care, the CDC recently released detailed information on maintaining childhood immunizations during the COVID-19 pandemic. This guidance reinforces that it is crucial to maintain childhood immunizations to keep other diseases from spreading as well and emphasizes that providers prioritize newborn care and vaccination of young children. More information on the CDC guidelines can be found here.
The CDC has developed resources and tools to make it easier for LHDs to get involved in NIIW. Some of the tools they have developed are:
- An NIIW digital media toolkit with social media messages and images, slide decks, and videos. Many of these resources are in both Spanish and English.
- A list of key messages to promote about infant immunization.
- A presentation for healthcare providers on creating a culture of immunization within their practice.
- Tips for talking to parents about childhood vaccines.
All these and more can be found on the CDC’s NIIW webpage.
Use #ivax2protect on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to share why it is important for all infants to be immunized.