SPRINGFEILD – Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich is asking every parent in Illinois to make sure their children have been vaccinated against 14 serious diseases during National Infant Immunization Week which begins tomorrow. In the U.S., vaccines have reduced or eliminated many infectious diseases that once routinely killed or harmed many infants, children and adults. While Illinois is currently at a record or near record low in the number of cases of vaccine-preventable diseases, the viruses and bacteria that cause them still exist. Even diseases that haven’t been seen in the U.S. in more than 20 years, like polio, are only a plane ride away.
“As parents, we’re always concerned about the health and safety of our children and take steps to protect them. Making sure they get their vaccinations is one of the most important ways we can protect our children against serious disease. This week I want to remind every parent to make sure their child or children have received all their needed vaccinations,” said Governor Blagojevich.
Vaccine-preventable diseases such as polio, measles, mumps, whooping cough and diphtheria carry with them certain costs, such as sick children missing school and causing parents to miss work. These diseases also result in doctor’s visits, hospitalizations, and even premature deaths.
“Vaccine-preventable diseases used to strike thousands of children each year. Today there are relatively few cases, but outbreaks still occur each year because some babies are not immunized. A small but growing number of parents are questioning the safety of vaccines or refusing to have their children immunized which could lead to the reemergence of diseases that have been eliminated in the U.S. The bottom line is vaccines help prevent infectious diseases and save lives,” said Dr. Damon T. Arnold, Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Reports in the media have raised concerns about vaccines recently. For example, the number of children who did not receive the mumps, measles and rubella vaccine (MMR) increased after a study proposing a link between the MMR vaccine and autism was published in a United Kingdom journal. Although the study was discredited, rates of MMR immunizations fell in Britain following the publication, resulting in measles outbreaks and the first measles death in the United Kingdom in more than a decade.
To date there is no definite, scientific proof that any vaccine or combination of vaccines can cause autism according to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Vaccines actually help the immune system to defend the body. Both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Institute of Medicine reviewed evidence and found that it did not support the theory that the MMR vaccine caused autism or related disorders.
Governor Blagojevich has issued the following proclamation declaring April 19-26, 2008 National Infant Immunization Week in Illinois.
WHEREAS vaccines are considered one of the most successful and cost effective public health tools available for preventing disease and death; and
WHEREAS immunizations are one of the most important ways parents can protect their children against serious diseases; and
WHEREAS children need a series of vaccinations, starting at birth, to be fully protected against 14 childhood diseases by the time they reach two years of age; and
WHEREAS national immunization levels are at or near record highs for most vaccines and Illinois immunization levels among children under two years of age in 2007, as measured by the National Immunization Survey, resulted in levels of over 78% for the expanded series of vaccinations; and
WHEREAS Vaccine-preventable diseases are at an all-time low in the country and state but these diseases still exist and continued vaccination is necessary to reach levels high enough to protect everyone from potential outbreaks; and
WHEREAS National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW) focuses local and national attention on the importance of timely and proper immunization for infants and toddlers 24 months and under and serves as a call to parents, caregivers, and health care providers to participate in activities and events to increase the awareness of immunizing children before their 2nd birthday; and
WHEREAS the Illinois Department of Public Health has partnered with local health departments, the Illinois Chapter of American Academy of Pediatrics, local health coalitions, and health advocate organizations to promote and support immunization activities throughout the state; and
WHEREAS the week of April 19-26, 2008, has been declared National Infant Immunization Week to help ensure children receive all recommended vaccinations by age two:
THEREFORE, I, Rod R. Blagojevich, Governor of the State of Illinois, do hereby proclaim the week of April 19- 26, 2008, as Infant Immunization Awareness Week in Illinois, and encourage all citizens to spread the immunization message throughout their communities, and urge public and private health care providers, parents and caregivers in Illinois to advance the health of children by ensuring early and on-time vaccination against preventable childhood diseases.