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Trenton, NJ 08625-0360
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In recognition of National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW), April 19-26, the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) supports public health agencies and healthcare providers around New Jersey as they hold special events to promote the critical importance of vaccinating infants and children up to age two against preventable diseases.
On average, 115,000 babies are born in New Jersey each year, and current statistics indicate that only 78 percent of New Jersey’s children are fully immunized by age two. Health and Senior Services Commissioner Heather Howard said the Department is at work to improve the state’s childhood immunization rates through initiatives that include the federally funded Vaccines for Children (VFC) Program.
“One of our public health priorities is to work diligently to increase immunization rates in New Jersey,” said Commissioner Howard, “especially among populations with affordability and access barriers.”
Through the VFC Program, DHSS distributes more than one million doses of vaccine to more than 2,500 participating providers in New Jersey. The program makes free vaccine available to infants and children whose families are uninsured, underinsured, on Medicaid or FamilyCare. Free vaccine is also available to Native Americans and Alaskan natives.
DHSS Deputy Commissioner and State Epidemiologist Eddy A. Bresnitz, M.D., M.S., said infants are especially vulnerable to infectious disease, and while vaccine-preventable disease is at an all-time low in the U.S., these diseases still exist. “Protecting infants from needless disease, impairment and death is an ongoing responsibility we all share,” Dr. Bresnitz said. “Further, vaccines also benefit society as a whole by reducing the incidence of infectious disease in the community.”
DHSS is continuing its work to expand healthcare provider participation in the New Jersey Immunization Information System (NJIIS), a statewide web-based immunization registry. The registry helps providers track children’s immunization status and reminds parents when shots are due. Providers find the registry system is easy to use, saves time, and allows them to share needed immunization information with others. The registry also has been enhanced to allow providers to download an official childhood immunization record directly from the NJIIS site, a definite boon to parents and caregivers.
Parents and caregivers should also keep track of their child’s immunizations with an immunization record card, available through healthcare providers.
“The public is a vital partner is raising immunization rates in New Jersey,” said Commissioner Howard. “We encourage parents and caregivers to ask their child’s healthcare provider about their participation in the NJIIS and ask everyone to take part in local events that raise vaccine awareness.” Events are listed below and at www.cdc.gov/vaccines/events/niiw.
During NIIW, an annual campaign sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hundreds of communities across the United States will join those in the Western Hemisphere and Europe to celebrate Vaccination Week in the Americas and Immunization Week in Europe. Over 60 countries are expected to participate.
NIIW Special Events: One Mile Walk/ Parade
Additional events at each location; call for more details.
Department of Health
P. O. Box 360, Trenton, NJ 08625-0360