This week, April 20-27, is National Infant Immunization Week, reports the Dickinson-Iron County Health Department and the Florence County Health Department.
National Infant Immunization Week is an annual observance to highlight the importance of protecting infants from vaccine-preventable diseases and celebrate the achievements of immunization programs and their partners in promoting healthy communities, said Joyce Ziegler, RNC, Community Health Services Director at the Dickinson-Iron District Health Department.
Since 1994, National Infant Immunization Week has served as a call to action for parents, caregivers, and health care providers to ensure that infants are fully immunized against 14 vaccine-preventable diseases.
Parents agree that feeding and sleep schedules are important to help keep their children healthy, officials said.
The same goes for childhood immunizations.
Vaccinating children on time is the best way to protect them against 14 serious and potentially deadly diseases before their second birthday.
"The recommended immunization schedule is designed to offer protection early in life," Ziegler said, "when babies are vulnerable and before it's likely they will be exposed to diseases."
Public health and medical experts base their vaccine recommendations on many factors. They study information about diseases and vaccines very carefully to decide which vaccines kids should get and when they should get them for best protection.
Although the number of vaccines a child needs in the first two years may seem like a lot, doctors know a great deal about the human immune system, and they know that a healthy baby's immune system can handle getting all vaccines when they are recommended.
Ziegler cautions against parents delaying vaccination.
"There is no known benefit to delaying vaccination," she said. "In fact, it puts babies at risk of getting sick because they are left vulnerable to catch serious diseases during the time they are not protected by vaccines."
When parents choose not to vaccinate or to follow a delayed schedule, children are left unprotected against diseases that still circulate in this country, like measles and whooping cough.
In 2010, more than 27,000 cases of whooping cough were reported nationally with 27 deaths - 25 of which were infants.
Today, there are cases in every state, and the country is on track to have the most reported cases since 1959.
As of November 16, 2012, more than 35,000 cases have been reported across the United States, including 16 deaths.
The majority of these deaths were among infants younger than 3 months of age.
Immunization is a shared responsibility.
Families, health care professionals, school nurses, and public health officials must work together to help protect the entire community.
Local health care providers and health departments in Oneida, Florence, Forest, and Vilas counties have teamed up together as the Northwoods Immunization Coalition to address local immunization rates, professional educational opportunities, local supply and community access to vaccines, said Annette Seibold, director of Florence County Health Department.
Vaccinations are safe and have been proven to prevent serious diseases.
"Giving babies the recommended immunization by age two is the best way to protect them from serious childhood diseases," said Dr. Wegehaupt, pediatrician with Ministry Medical Group-Northern Region.
Parents are encouraged to talk to their health care provider to assure their child is up-to-date on immunizations.
For more information or to schedule an appointment for immunizations, call the Dickinson-Iron Health Department at 774-1868 or (906) 265-9913.
Local health departments offer vaccinations through the Vaccine for Children program which are available at no charge to eligible children.
Contact your health care provider or Florence County Health Department at 715-528-4837 to see if your child is up to date.