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National Infant Immunization Week - April 23 - 30, 2011

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Margo Kerrigan, M.P.H., Area Director
Indian Health Service California Area Office

The week of April 23 - April 30, 2011 is National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW), a week recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as a National Health Observance. National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW) is an annual observance to highlight the importance of protecting infants from vaccine-preventable diseases and to celebrate the achievements of immunization programs and their partners in promoting healthy communities. Immunizations have been identified as having a crucial role in safeguarding public health around the world. During National Infant Immunization Week, hundreds of communities across the country will join in celebration. CDC Predicts that over 60 countries around the world will participate.

California Area Indian Health Service has identified childhood immunizations as a priority measure for improvement for the current GPRA Year. The Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) measure for Childhood Immunizations, based on Healthy People 2020 goals, identifies up-to date children as those 19 through 35 months of age who have, by the end of the GPRA Year, June 30, 2011, completed the "basic" series of childhood immunizations recommended by Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. April is an appropriate time to remind the members of your communities, including family, friends, and co-workers to make sure that their children are up-to-date on their immunizations. Communities are encouraged to plan local health screenings or fairs, media events and other related immunization outreach efforts during this week to promote the benefits of infant immunization.

Studies show that immunizations are the first line of defense against vaccine preventable disease and are important for children, adolescents, and adults. Vaccine-preventable disease rates are lower than they have ever been; however in order to continue this pattern, healthcare providers must educate their patients and provide immunizations as indicated by the recommendations set forth by the Centers for Disease Control's, Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). Because children are vulnerable to infection, most vaccines are given during the first five to six years of life. Other immunizations are recommended during adolescent and adult years, with certain booster vaccinations recommended throughout life.

The following are recommended practices aimed at reducing the levels of vaccine-preventable diseases:

  • All health care personnel should be current on all immunizations and unless medically contraindicated, receive the influenza vaccine prior to the start of "flu" season
  • Health care providers and immunization program staff, should attend annual training updates regarding immunizations and vaccine preventable diseases in order to maintain a safe practice
  • Patients and caregivers should be educated by health care providers about vaccine preventable diseases and ways in which these diseases can be prevented
  • Health care providers should avoid missed opportunities by providing immunizations to patients who are due for them when the patient arrives at the health care facility for other health care services
  • Health care providers should send out reminder letters to patients who are due for immunizations and continue to follow up as appropriate
  • Use of both the IHS and CA Regional Immunization Registry System for data collection, tracking and reporting is highly recommended to ensure appropriate immunization coverage protection and as a measure of emergency preparedness.

    For information related to CA GPRA Requirements, please contact Elaine Brinn, elaine.brinn@ihs.gov.

    For information related to CA Area Immunization Improvement Initiatives, please contact Susan Ducore, susan.ducore@ihs.gov.

    For more information on infant immunizations, you may visit the NIIW, CDC web site at http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/events/niiw/index.html Exit Disclaimer – You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov. At that site you will find resources that promote infant immunizations and the 2011 National Infant Immunization Week.

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