ATLANTA – Georgia is leading the country with above average early childhood vaccinations with 75.6 percent of children 19-35 months old protected, compared to national averages of 72.2 percent for the 7-vaccine series. However, health officials here say statewide immunization statistics show that more can be done to stop vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks in Georgia.
As recent disease outbreaks demonstrate, immunizing infants and young children remains a critical component of protecting vulnerable infants against potentially deadly diseases.
So far in 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported more than 1,200 cases of mumps across the U.S. Other recent outbreaks include a pertussis outbreak in 2012 that infected more than 48,000 people, and a measles outbreak that started at Disneyland and impacted 188 people in 2015. Each of these diseases is preventable by vaccines.
During National Infant Immunization Week, April 22-29, the Georgia Department of Public Health and the Georgia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics urge parents to check with their pediatrician to ensure their child is up-to-date on vaccinations.
“Immunizations are the best way to protect infants and children from childhood diseases, like whooping cough and measles that can be life-threatening at young ages,” said Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D., commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health. “It is critical for parents to talk to their child’s doctor to ensure they are up-to-date on immunizations, because no child should have to suffer a vaccine-preventable illness.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics encourages parents to become aware of vaccination rates in their community. The AAP offers an interactive map (https://immunizations.aap.org/) that highlights vaccination rates in each state for recommended childhood vaccines, including vaccines that protect against measles, mumps, pertussis, polio and influenza. It also offers state-by-state information about community immunity thresholds, which is the level at which disease outbreaks are prevented.
“High immunization rates in the community provide a buffer of protection that makes it harder for diseases to break through,” said Georgia Chapter AAP President Ben Spitalnick, M.D., Savannah. “Vaccines protect children from diseases, and they also keep communities healthy by protecting infants who are too young to be vaccinated, or those who have compromised immune systems.”
The Georgia Department of Public Health and the Georgia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics encourage everyone – in observance of National Infant Immunization Week – to protect the little ones who cannot yet protect themselves. Please contact your pediatrician or your local public health department to ensure your infant is up-to-date on vaccinations. For more information contact the Georgia Department of Public Health http://dph.georgia.gov/immunization-section or http://www.gaaap.org/immunizations/.