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Secretary of Health Kicks Off 'National Infant Immunization Week,' Several Vaccine-Preventable Diseases Are on the Rise in Pennsylvania

Saturday, April 24, 2010 General News J E 4
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HARRISBURG, Pa., April 23 Pennsylvania parents are strongly urged to protect their children by making certain they are fully immunized against preventable diseases, Secretary of Health Everette James said today to mark the start of National Infant Immunization Week, April 24-May 1.

"Vaccines are among the most successful and cost-effective public health tools available for preventing disease," said James. "They not only prevent disease in people who receive them, but also protect those who come in contact with unvaccinated individuals including those who are too young to be vaccinated or individuals who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons."

While the U.S. has recently seen dramatic reductions in vaccine-preventable diseases, Pennsylvania continues to see an increase in reportable cases of vaccine-preventable diseases such as mumps, measles, and pertussis - or whooping cough.

In 2009, 439 pertussis cases were reported to the Department of Health, up from 342 in 2004. Eleven cases of mumps were reported, up from four cases and 13 measles cases were reported up from zero during the same five-year span. These diseases are highly contagious and can pose unnecessary health risks to children.

Parents are often unaware that children are at risk for so many serious and life-threatening diseases. The low levels of vaccine-preventable diseases at the national level shows immunizations work as intended to keep children healthy by controlling the spread of infectious diseases. Parents should talk with their health care provider to ensure infants are up-to-date on their immunizations.

National Infant Immunization Week emphasizes the need to fully immunize children against 14 vaccine-preventable diseases and celebrates the achievements of immunization programs in promoting healthy communities. The week focuses on the importance of proper immunization for infants and toddlers age 2 and under.

For more information on immunizations or an immunization schedule, visit www.health.state.pa.us/immunizations or call 1-877-PA-HEALTH.

Media contact: Stacy Kriedeman, 717-787-1783

SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Health
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