NEW JERSEY – The New Jersey Department of Health (NJDEP) recognized the week of April 21-28 as National Infant Immunization Week, emphasizing the importance of immunizing infant and protecting them from vaccine-preventable illnesses. The NJDEP is also recognizing this week to celebrate achievements in immunization programs and individuals in promoting healthy communities.
“Giving infants the recommended immunizations by age two is the best way to protect them from 14 serious childhood diseases, like whooping cough and measles,” Commissioner Dr. Shereef Elnahal said. “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recommended immunization schedule is designed to protect babies early in life, when they are vulnerable and before it’s likely that they will be exposed to diseases.”
Every year the CDC and CDC Foundation recognize individuals around the country who contribute positively to public health, through childhood immunization efforts. One of this year’s honorees is Dr. Jeffrey M. Bienstock from PediatriCare Associates. Bienstock was honored with the Childhood Immunization Champion Award for his work in implementing an annual seasonal influenza carnival, a project that began in 2013. Bienstock and his staff vaccinated more than 1,100 children and families this year.
“Young children rely on the champions in their lives to keep them safe and healthy,” Elnahal said. “When families, healthcare professionals and public health officials work together, children win by being protected from serious and deadly vaccine-preventable diseases.”
The NJDEP, through the Fight the Flu NJ campaign, encouraged people to get the flu vaccine. The Commissioner and senior staff made a series of visits to hospitals, nursing homes, health centers, rehab facilities and county health departments to promote flu vaccination.
Healthcare facilities were also recognized as Public Health Innovators for doing a good job vaccinating employees.
The Vaccines for Children (VFC) program allows the NJDEP to provide access to help uninsured and underinsured children get their vaccines according to the recommended immunization schedule. This has made significant strides in eliminating disparities in vaccination coverage among young children.
NJDEP also noted that pregnancy is a good opportunity to start learning about vaccination to protect their babies. Pregnant women should get the flu and Tdap (whooping cough) vaccines during each pregnancy, according to the department.
Despite the success of immunizations, vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks still occur.
“I encourage parents to talk to their pediatrician to ensure that their baby is up to date on immunizations, especially before traveling internationally,” Commissioner Elnahal said. “Even when diseases are rare in the U.S., they can still be common in many parts of the world.”
For more information and resources to prepare for NIIW, visit the CDC web site at cdc.gov/vaccines/events/niiw/index.html. To view the list of 2017-2018 New Jersey Influenza Honor Roll Awardees, visit nj.gov/health/cd/vpdp.shtml.