By: Yuritza Arroyo
In recognition of National Infant Immunization Week, April 24-30, the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) is reminding parents of the importance of protecting infants from vaccine-preventable diseases by ensuring they are up to date on all vaccinations.
According to officials, in addition to other ongoing efforts to raise awareness and share information with residents about vaccines, NJDOH will be hosting a Facebook Live at 6:30 p.m. on May 3 for parents and caregivers of children to discuss and answer questions about COVID-19 vaccines.
Giving babies and infants the recommended vaccinations by the age of two years is the best way to protect them from 14 serious childhood diseases, including whooping cough (pertussis) and measles.
NJDOH promotes childhood immunization throughout the year. For example, the Department’s Hot Shots for Tots Immunization Campaign, a voluntary point-based incentive program for child care and preschool facilities, helps promote best practices for increasing childhood vaccination rates in NJ child care and preschools.
Currently, in its fifth year, this program provides facilities with the opportunity to showcase their commitment to keeping kids healthy.
Through the Vaccines for Children (VFC) program, NJDOH also works to ensure greater access to vaccinations throughout the state by providing vaccines to partners to immunize uninsured and underinsured children according to the recommended immunization schedule.
Each year, the New Jersey VFC program provides approximately 1.6 million doses of vaccines to providers throughout the state.
This has contributed directly to a substantial increase in childhood immunization coverage levels and a reduction in disparities in vaccination coverage among young children.
“Vaccines are safe and effective and can help protect children from numerous life-threatening diseases, like measles and COVID-19,” said Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli.
“Keeping your children up to date on all of their vaccinations will ensure they stay protected. I encourage parents to discuss the vaccine status of their children with their healthcare providers and catch up on any doses missed during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that vaccination of children nationwide born between 1994 and 2021 will:
- Prevent 472 million illnesses (29.8 million hospitalizations)
- Help avoid 1,052,000 deaths
- Save nearly $2.2 trillion in total societal costs.
Protecting children through vaccination begins before birth. Pregnant individuals should receive the flu shot and Tdap (whooping cough) vaccines during each pregnancy.
A dose of the Tdap vaccine is recommended during the third trimester (between 27 and 36 weeks) of every pregnancy to help protect babies from whooping cough before they are old enough to get their own whooping cough vaccine at age two months.