FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 18, 2016
The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) joins partners across the country and the world to celebrate national Infant Immunization Week, April 16-23, 2016.
Karen L. Bowling, DHHR Cabinet Secretary and Dr. Rahul Gupta, Bureau for Public Health Commissioner and State Health Officer, met with members of the West Virginia Public Employees Day Care Center today to highlight the importance of protecting infants and young children.
“Despite the fact that West Virginia has one of the highest rates of immunization for school-age children, the state has the lowest rate of infant immunization in the country at 63 percent compared to 71 percent nationally,” Bowling said. “That gap means many of our young children are susceptible to diseases such as measles and whooping cough, which can easily be prevented with vaccines.”
Each year, thousands of children become ill from diseases that could have been prevented by basic childhood immunizations. Countless more miss time from school because they are under-immunized.
“Vaccines are among the most successful and cost-effective public health tools available for preventing disease and death,” said Gupta. “They not only have the power to protect our youngest and most vulnerable, but also help protect entire communities by preventing and reducing the spread of infectious diseases.”
Giving children the recommended immunizations by age two is the best way to protect them from 14 serious childhood diseases: Diphtheria, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Influenza, Measles, Rotavirus, Haemophilus Influenzae type B, Tetanus (Lockjaw), Mumps, Pertussis (Whooping Cough), Pneumococcal Disease, Polio, Rubella (German Measles) and Varicella (Chickenpox).
The West Virginia Vaccines for Children (VFC) program provides free vaccines to children who are underinsured or whose parents or guardians may not be able to afford them.
For more information, please visit www.immunization.wv.gov.